Do You Know the Warning Signs of a Financial Scam?
Financial scammers often target retirees and the elderly. That it is why it is important to understand and identify the potential signs of financial fraud before you lose your life savings. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently issued an Investor Alert cautioning all seniors to look for five “red flags” which may indicate an investment opportunity may be a scam.
- The Person Offering the Opportunity Is Not Licensed or Registered
Many times, people invest with someone because of a personal relationship. That is not always a good idea. Even if you know the person offering you an investment opportunity, you should still make sure he or she has the appropriate credentials. Individuals dealing in securities of any type should be registered with the SEC and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) also maintains an online database of all registered and licensed brokers dealing in securities. Never deal with anyone who is not properly registered.
- The Person Has Red Flags In His or Her Background
Even registered brokers currently in good standing may have a checkered past. You need to learn about such problems before you invest. FINRA and the regulatory agencies all maintain public records of disciplinary actions against individuals and firms. For example, you can learn if your broker has even been fired by a broker for malfeasance or the subject of multiple investor complaints. A background check can also reveal problems such as bankruptcy or failure to pass required industry licensing examinations. Even if you still decide to invest with a broker who has such red flags, it is still essential you have all the information before you trust them with your hard-earned money.
- There’s No Such Thing As a Free Lunch
Many scammers use “free lunch” seminars to lure potential victims. They are often advertised as “educational seminars” designed to help customers. But more often than not, they are simply vehicles to push questionable investment products. And once the scammer has your contact information, he or she will often conduct multiple follow-ups to pressure you into investing with them.
- There’s Also No Such Thing as a Risk-Free Investment
This leads to the core of most financial scams—the promise of high returns with little or no risk. We’ve all heard about Ponzi or similar schemes. All start with a promise. Investors are told they will receive guaranteed returns far above what more conservative investment strategies can provide. What investors are not told is these returns are often a figment of the scammer’s imagination. In most investment schemes, the scammer simply uses client funds for his or her own purposes, while the investors receive little or nothing in return.
- Never Buy On Impulse
Because time is not on the scammer’s side—all Ponzi schemes ultimately collapse—investors are pressured to “act now” without taking time to perform any research or due diligence. You should never fall for this trick. Securities are not something you buy on impulse while waiting on the checkout line at the supermarket. If anyone tells you to invest before learning more about the investment, the SEC advises you “walk away.”
Unfortunately, many elderly and retired persons fail to heed these warnings and still find themselves the victims of an investment scam. If you or someone you know is in this position and needs advice from an experienced Florida securities fraud attorney, contact Gregory Tendrich, P.A., in Boca Raton today.