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MBJ Editorial

Think you have stumbled across a fabulous investment? The big deal? A perfect score?

You had better think again.

In addition to billions of dollars in new investment by people from every walk of life, the American bull market has also fueled plenty of scams. Every one of them sounds too good to be true, and they’re all designed to suck your money away.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Mississippi Secretary of State Eric Clark, whose office is responsible for regulating public companies and watching out for investors in the state, released a top 10 list of scams to watch out for last week.

“Mississippians need to know there are crooks who are out to steal their money,” Clark said. “It’s white-collar crime, plain and simple, and everyone needs to get all the facts so they won’t become victims.”

The list, prepared by the North American Securities Administration Association (NASAA), warns of pricey day-trading seminars, supposedly high-yielding promissory notes, investments in “viatical settlements” (interests in the life insurance policies of supposedly terminally ill people), Internet fraud, affinity group fraud, investment seminars, Ponzi and pyramid schemes, illegal franchise offerings and entertainment scams.

“Today we have an ideal climate for fraud,” said New Hampshire’s director of securities regulation and NASAA president Peter C. Hildreth. “Millions of new investors, many of whom expect unrealistically high returns, are looking for places to put their money. At the same time we’re living through an Internet-driven technology revolution that is a boon to investors and con-artists alike.”

Ultimately, we are responsible for the investment choices we make. We would do well to think clearly, research thoroughly and never get greedy when it comes to investing.

“Securities fraud costs Americans billions of dollars each year,” Clark said. “I know Mississippians just like me are investing for their retirement or their children’s education. But all of us need to be careful and watch out for these scams.”

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