Anne Milgram, Attorney General
 
Division of Consumer Affairs
Larry DeMarzo, Acting Director
 
For Immediate Release:
January 25, 2008
For Further Information Contact:
Jeff Lamm, 973-504-6327
Consumer Information:
973-504-6200

 

N.J. Bureau of Securities Reminds Investors that
Scams Often Hide Behind Today's Headlines

Newark – Attorney General Anne Milgram and Bureau of Securities Chief Vincent J. Oliva today reminded investors not to allow recent negative economic news and stock market volatility to lead them into high-risk speculative investments, which may be nothing more than fraudulent schemes hiding behind today’s headlines.

“Scam artists follow the news and often prey on investors’ fear to promote bogus investments with promises of high return and little or no risk,” Attorney General Milgram said.

Investors nearing retirement are particularly at risk of being targeted by phony investment schemes promising high returns to make up for losses in retirement accounts. However, investors of any age or stage of investing can become victims of securities fraud, especially in times of unstable market conditions.

“We are concerned that investors may allow uncertainty over current market conditions to lead them into fraudulent investment schemes that could weaken or devastate their financial position, potentially wiping out the security they worked so hard to build. A hasty decision often can make a bad situation worse,” Oliva said.

Oliva reminded investors that the Bureau is there to help them and that the Bureau’s primary mission is to protect investors. He recommends investors:

  • Hang up on aggressive cold callers and delete unsolicited e-mail messages promoting investments opportunities with little or no risk –especially when the message appears to be a stock tip left mistakenly for someone else but on your phone. This “mistakenly” left phone message is no mistake. This is only one type of securities fraud that has run coast to coast successfully scamming victims out of hard earned money;
  • Contact the New Jersey Bureau of Securities of the Office of the Attorney General to check that both the seller and the investment are licensed and registered. If they aren’t, don’t invest. You can ask for the licensing status and the disciplinary history, then make an educated decision using solid information;
  • Request written information about any investment; carefully review it or ask your financial adviser to evaluate it. While the investment might have legitimate products, scam artists might be selling investments illegally or they just might be selling total fraudulent products;
  • Use common sense. Get-rich-quick promises are usually signs of investment fraud; and
  • Make a call if you suspect you’ve been scammed. Report it to the New Jersey Bureau of Securities. Your call could help others from losing money or you might find that other investors have already notified the state and are being assisted.

“Whether the markets are up or down, there are always those who will attempt to prey on the investing public,” Oliva said. “Investors should guard against high-pressure sales pitches for unregistered securities and non-traditional investments such as foreign currency, oil and gas investments, exotic financial products, or offers to send their money offshore to so-called ‘safe havens.’”

He also noted that legitimate financial professionals, if serving their client’s interests first, generally do not recommend changes to investment portfolios based on short term economic news and market volatility.

“Investors, especially those nearing or in retirement, should view with great skepticism any recommendation to liquidate a well structured, diversified investment portfolio to fund the purchase of an alternative investment product that may expose them to high commissions, high fees, excessive complexity, and undue risk,” he said.

The N.J. Bureau of Securities can be contacted toll-free within New Jersey at 1-877-I-INVEST (1-877-446-8378) or from outside New Jersey at 973-504-3600. The Bureau’s web site is located at www.njsecurities.gov.

The Bureau is a member of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), the oldest international organization devoted to investor protection. Contact information can be found on the NASAA website at www.nasaa.org.

NASAA’ s membership consists of the securities administrators in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the provinces and territories of Canada and Mexico.

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