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Protect yourself

If an investment you're interested has the characteristics of one of the five warning signs below—it’s okay to say ‘no’. 

#1 - No risk!

There’s no such thing as a guaranteed investment: the higher the returns, the higher the risk. This type of sales pitch is often aimed at people who live on a fixed income or those near or in early retirement who are worried about having enough money. 

#2 - Profit like the pros!

These scams are pitched as opportunities known only to a select few who are said to be making a lot of money. The scam artist convinces you that he or she has access to this inside information.  

An example of this is the‘prime bank’ scam. Investors are told about the existence of a secret market that only the world’s largest banks know about and are then given an exclusive opportunity to participate in this secret market. The catch is, secret prime bank markets don’t exist. 

#3 - Offshore, tax free!

Fraudsters pitch this deal as a way to avoid paying taxes. They may try to convince you to move your money outside Canada to avoid taxes. They really want you to move it to an inaccessible offshore account.

They also tell you to keep it a secret so that you don't benefit from the advice of financial advisors who might see through the scam.

Read more on offshore investment schemes.

#4 - Get in now!

Scam artists use this tactic to pressure you into making a quick decision. They suggest they have secret information about a company that the general public doesn’t have.

This kind of sales pitch appeals to your fear of missing out on a valuable opportunity. Take your time to research an investment advisor, salesperson, company, and investment before you invest.

#5 - Your friends and family can’t be wrong!

Scam artists target religious, ethnic, or close-knit groups by working their way into organizations and befriending members. This approach relies on the trust you place in the people you care about.

Do a background check on the person who brings the investment opportunity to your attention - no matter how trustworthy. 

Report it and warn others

If you have been approached or know of an investment that fits the description above, contact your provincial securities regulator immediately.

In BC, contact BCSC Inquiries. You can also anonymously report suspicious activity through InvestRight’s Report a scam webpage.

Residents from other Canadian provinces can find contact information for their provincial securities regulator at www.securities-administrators.ca.

If you know a person who has put money into, or is considering contributing, to an investment like the one described above, give or send them this information, and encourage them to do more research.