If you’re smart about your money, you can grow it into something meaningful. Even small investments can lead to big returns, if the investor is cautious about where and how they invest their money.
Unfortunately, not everyone with access to financial markets plays by the rules. Fraudsters will try anything to separate you from your hard-earned cash, including promising you unmissable investment opportunities. That’s why it’s important to understand the different types of investment fraud so that you know what warning signs to watch for and avoid falling victim to con artists looking to make a quick buck at your expense.
Any time you are presented with an opportunity that sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
Here are some common forms of investment fraud that you should be alert for:
Ponzi schemes work by paying out high returns to investors out of money paid into the scheme by other investors, rather than out of the company’s actual profits. The scammer essentially uses new investors’ money to pay off earlier investors, preventing the scheme from being detected as fraudulent since no one has reason to believe they won’t be paid as promised.
However, at some point, a Ponzi scheme will run out of new investors and once that happens, the scheme will collapse. When that happens, the earlier investors are paid out not with a return on their investment, but with money provided by the new investors.
That means when the scheme collapses, the original investors don’t just lose their initial investment but are out even more money.
Equity Investment Fraud
An equity investment is a type of investment in which investors purchase a share of an ongoing business. There are plenty of legitimate equity investments out there, but they are also a favorite tool of fraudsters who want to take advantage of unsuspecting investors.
An equity investment fraud is essentially when an investor is promised a share in the profits of a business or a high return on their investment, but never sees any return on their investment. An equity investment fraud will often be accompanied by a Ponzi scheme where investors are paid not with profits from the business, but with money provided by new investors.
You should be extra careful when considering equity investments, as they are rarely regulated by the government, making them an attractive tool for fraudsters.
Hedge Fund Fraud
A hedge fund is a type of investment fund that aims to generate high returns for investors by investing in a variety of financial markets. Hedge funds are unregulated by the government, but are highly regulated by financial services.
Hedge fund fraud occurs when a fund manager fails to follow the correct procedures, either intentionally or unintentionally. Hedge fund fraud can happen for a number of reasons. Some fund managers simply make a mistake, and other fund managers commit fraud by lying about their experience and credentials.
There are also cases of fraud where a fund manager intentionally loses investors’ money on a fraudulent scheme in order to cover up past or present losses.
Summing Up: How to Protect Yourself from Fraud
If you’ve read this far, you know that investment fraud can take many different forms. The best way to protect yourself from fraud is to be aware of the common signs of investment fraud.
Stay informed on the latest news from the financial sector, and be careful about what information you share online. You don’t have to be suspicious of every person you meet, but you should be careful about the information you share and what details you reveal. If someone you’ve met online seems too good to be true, they probably are.
You can also protect yourself from fraud by using a trusted investment advisor who will act as a go-between and a source of information. This way, you don’t have to deal directly with anyone who might be trying to scam you.