Fraud Awareness

Wed, 2014-03-12

You've likely seen the ads of "David."  He's the smooth talking, white-haired gentlemen promising high returns, no risk and his personal guarantee.  In one ad he proclaims that, "you couldn't stop me anyways, it happens all the time," before boarding his yacht and sailing off with all your money.

The ads are often humorous and run with frequency.  They illicit an emotional response to one of our deepest fears. 

But, "It happens all the time?"  Not in my experience.  This form of fraud is rare.

A recent Marketplace segment provided a more accurate depiction.  Many financial advisors provided good advice and full disclosure.  However, some provided misleading, incomplete and in some cases, wrong answers.

While there are many initiatives underway behind the scenes an individual's only option when seeking a new financial relationship is to arm themselves with more education.  To this end, the BC Securities Commission also runs a program known as Invest Right.  Google their website and look for "How to Be an Empowered Investor."   

On the topic of fraud here are some of the more common ones.

Sweepstakes Scams- Using official looking documents illegitimate lotteries outside of Canada are a sure-way for you and your money to part.

Computer Virus Assistance.  Someone calls you out-of-the blue warning you of the harmful effects of a virus on your computer.  Now just give them access to your hard drive so they can fix.

In reviewing my junk email I see that Prince Kwaku Osei Tutu the Son of the Kingdom of Ashanti would like me to join him in Ghana.  I'm guessing if I send him my credit card information he'll arrange for his private jet to come fetch me.

I'm looking at a FINAL NOTICE for an online directory I've never heard of.  The fine print says I get an introductory listing for only $299 for the first six months moving up to $399 for the last half of the year.  I see that Grumpy Bear Lodge is listed under Dentists so we'll give them an F for greedy and stupid.

Emails or phone calls you receive asking for personal information.  They come disguised as being from your bank, mobile phone provider or even Apple.  With the majority of the population using these services it is easy to be tricked-up.  Just cause it looks like a duck and quacks like one doesn't mean it is one.

Legitimate charities and businesses do call and email for support.  I support a few but I always investigate first.  You should too.