Con Artists Profiting from Economic Uncertainty

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) released its annual list of phony financial products and practices, including several that are taking advantage of lingering economic uncertainty and stock market volatility. 

NASAA reports that some investor complaints have been based on claims such as: “Realize safety and appreciation in gold;” “Wave energy: the future to power our homes;” “Synthetic fuels take the oilman out of our pockets;” and “Invest in foreclosed homes, help others and make a fortune!”

“Con artists follow the news and seek ways to exploit the headlines to their advantage while leaving investors holding an empty bag,” said David Massey, NASAA President and North Carolina Deputy Securities Administrator.

“Promoters often offer investors an opportunity to get in on the ‘ground floor’ of new technology or ideas to help others and make a great economic return,” Massey continued. “Unsuspecting investors can be lured into these schemes, especially if they sound familiar. These offerings require careful research and a strong reminder that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is not true, nor will it be profitable to anyone but the promoter.”

NASAA’s Enforcement Section identified the top ten financial products and practices (five of each) that threaten to trap unwary investors:

Products: distressed real estate schemes, energy investments, gold and precious metal investments, promissory notes, and securitized life settlement contracts.

Practices: affinity fraud, bogus or exaggerated credentials, mirror trading, private placements, and securities and investment advice offered by unlicensed agents.

“Investors should do business only with licensed brokers and investment advisers and should report any suspicion of investment fraud to their state or provincial securities regulator,” Massey concluded.

The full list, with details, can be found at