Consumer Protection and Investor Education for Seniors
How Swindlers Find Victims
Some of the ways that con artists find their victims include:
Free lunch, breakfast, and dinner seminars often help swindlers attract an audience of investors like you to gain information about your personal finances. Often, these seminars serve as a platform to initiate a relationship that builds trust and confidence in an educational setting that may be a ruse for a future high-pressure or targeted investment presentation.
Unsolicited Phone Calls
Although some investments promoted over the phone are legitimate, unsolicited phone calls are one of the most common means that fraud artists use to contact would-be victims. When in doubt, hang up the phone.
Con artists use both email and regular mail to make initial contact. However, they may insist on finalizing the deal by phone or in person in an effort to avoid postal regulators.
Internet Investment Schemes.
The Internet provides scam artists with countless opportunities to commit fraud. Chat rooms, blogs, and social media provide venues for swindlers to promote and perpetuate fraudulent schemes. These unscrupulous promoters use the Internet as a platform to conceal their identity, establish an electronic presence that creates a false sense of legitimacy, or advertise on a website to reach a large audience of potential customers.
Con artists may depend on word-of-mouth to perpetuate a fraud. Specifically, they may offer high rates of return on an investment, and then use their own money or investors’ funds to provide the initial investors with extraordinary returns. Through word-of-mouth and personal referrals, other people—including friends, neighbors, other family members, and church or community acquaintances—hear about the success of the venture, and in turn, invest their own funds.
Con artists sometimes use newspapers, magazines, financial publications, direct mail, and other media to attract their prospective victims and lure them into fraudulent investments and other schemes.
Con artists often target religious, ethnic, cultural, and professional groups. Some scammers may be members of the group, while others pretend to be members in order to gain trust and establish credibility. In many cases, investors become the victim of what turns out to be a Ponzi scheme.