If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is – so the cliché goes! And it perhaps fits no better than in the realm of investment.
In today’s complex financial world, there are many investment scam artists awaiting you. If you are not prepared to deal with these unregulated financial advisers and crooks, they can con you out of your hard-earned money.
Take the case of Mary. Back in 2015, Mary who has been living in Dubai for over 30 years was looking along with some of her friends to diversify her investment portfolio.
But little did she know that she would end up falling victim to a scam by a crook who was an unregulated investment adviser in UAE. The investment was called VOIP scheme that guaranteed over 25% return over 12 months.
Convinced, Mary put in US$30,000 (around AED 110,000) from her savings that she had been building up for years, only to realise a few days later that she had been ripped off.
“I got to know about this investment scheme through one of my friends, who I knew very well for years. He was very excited to invest in this scheme that offered 25% return over a span of 12 month and said he had met the owner of the company. I had never invested in anything prior to that and that’s why for me this was something quite different,” Mary told www.whichFinancialAdviser.com (See the complete interview here)
She said she met the adviser at his swanky office located in the Tecom area, who showed her the investment document and explained what the investment scheme was all about.
“It sounded very interesting to me. I also met the owner, Andrew (surname withheld) who told me I could make a lot of money out of this,” Mary added.
Subsequently, Mary signed all contract papers and gave the cheque with the amount to Andrew, unaware of what was about to unfold.
“I didn’t have time to do due diligence as he was pushing me to pay as soon as possible. So I gave him the cheque on the fourth day which he cashed in it on the fifth day,” Mary continued.
And then came the shock!
Next day after the cheque was cashed, the adviser called her and said, “Mary I’m sorry to let you know but Andrew has fled the country. He has closed the office and run away with your money, as well as the money of others.”
Mary was shocked and ‘in a state of disbelief’ as she said. Mary was not alone.
“There were more people, apart from me, who were scammed by Andrew and his company,” she told www.whichFinancialAdviser.com.
Mary did however manage to contact Andrew through email, as she said. The email reply of Andrew assured her that ‘her money would be returned… I will be in touch in due course’.
However, even after 5 years down the line, Mary is still waiting for her money.
Now, she has only two options — either to continue waiting for her money or forget it. Either way, she stands to lose. With the investment adviser having disappeared from Dubai, Mary is stuck with her investment she never needed.
“Trusting people who you know in general when it comes to these kinds of things isn’t always the best thing,” she rues.
So how would you spot scamsters who sell you duds as investments you don’t really need?
First, don’t fall for spectacular profits. There are numerous investors such as Mary who have burnt their fingers by buying into products that promise them the moon.
But be suspicious of anyone that offers you easy money.
Second, do your own diligence. A scammer may cajole you into believing that the product he is offering gives high and quick returns.
But in reality he is lying because the money you think you are ‘investing’ goes right into the crook’s bank account and not towards any credible investment.
And last but certainly not the least, don’t trust unregulated advisers. Avoid getting in touch with an unregulated investment adviser or financial adviser, even if he/she offers you fool-proof, money-back guarantees.
As Mary says, “I didn’t have time to do due diligence as he was pushing me to invest as soon as possible.”
Pushing you to pay soon is the most popular trick of unregulated scam artists like Andrew
As Nigel Sillitoe, CEO of Insight Discovery, and founder www.whichFinancialAdviser.com says, “The moral of the story is that whatever the investment is do make sure that the firm you’re dealing with is regulated. Seek a second, or even third, opinion and do some comparative analysis to find a genuine investment from a trusted firm.”
You can listen to this scam in Mary’s own words here