“Double your money.”
“Earn 500% annually, guaranteed.”
“Make money fast and easy.”
Whether it’s a Facebook ad, a comment on your favourite blog, or someone pushing an investment opportunity on Craigslist or Kijiji, investment scams are all over the internet.
Some are easier to spot than others. Most of us are no longer willing to send our hard earned money to a Nigerian prince – but the scammers know this, and they have gotten smarter. Now they lure you in with offers of “green” investments, guaranteed returns, government sanctioned accounts, and all kinds of vague promises.
Whether they are online or knocking at your door, the question is the same – why would you hand your money over to someone you don’t know, who doesn’t know you or your financial needs?
The internet is a quick and easy way for scam artists to find potential victims for their investment scams. With the internet, fraudsters can operate anonymously from anywhere in the world, making them hard to catch. Once you’ve given your money to an online scam artist, it’s likely gone for good.
Research your investments. The best way to protect your money is to be an informed investor. Before you buy any investment, find out as much as you can about it. Read financial documents like the prospectus and financial statements, which you can find on www.sedar.com.
Public companies and investment funds are required by securities law to file these and other documents on the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (SEDAR).
You can also get information from:
- analysts’ reports
- financial newspapers and websites
- investment newsletters
- chat rooms and online communities
You can get a lot of useful information from these sources, but remember each source only forms part of the overall picture of a company. Be skeptical of what you read and check as many different sources as you can to get a more complete picture. You can also get a second opinion from an independent financial adviser.
Visit Nova Scotia Securities Commission’s website to check the registration of an individual or firm, and to find out if they have been involved in any disciplinary actions. You can also contact us to find out what your options are if you think you’ve been scammed.