SCAM ARTISTS USE EVENTS LIKE THE CORONAVIRUS TO TRICK INVESTORS
HELENA, Mont.— In light of ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) developments, news coverage, and its impact on financial markets, State Auditor Matt Rosendale is reminding Montanans to be aware of con artists seeking to capitalize on fear and uncertainty.
“Con artists are opportunistic and use current events to trick investors into quickly handing over their money to a scam. Never make an investment decision without understanding what you are investing in, who you are doing business with, what the risks are, where your money is going, how it will be used, and how you can get it back,” Rosendale said.
Rosendale also says investors should be on the lookout for scam artists trying to use the market downturn and the coronavirus to scare investors into so-called “safer, guaranteed investments.”
“If you have concerns about your retirement accounts or investments, talk to your financial professional,” Rosendale said. “Avoid making rushed decisions based on fear.”
Con artists often target seniors because they typically have more assets after a lifetime of earning and saving money. Montana seniors, people who have aging parents or grandparents, and people who work with seniors and vulnerable adults should be especially wary of unsolicited investment offers mentioning current events or the need to act quickly.
To identify common telltale signs of possible investment fraud, consider these three questions before making a new investment.
- First, is the investment being offered with a guaranteed high return with little or no risk? All investments carry risk that you may potentially lose some or all of your money. Anyone who says their investment offer has no risk is lying. No one can guarantee an investment return.
- Second, is there a sense of urgency or limited availability surrounding the investment? If the offer is legitimate, it will be there later. If someone offers you a “can’t miss” investment opportunity and puts you on the spot, don’t be afraid to walk away.
- Third, is the person offering the investment, and the investment itself, properly licensed or registered? If you’re not sure if an investment is legitimate, call the Montana State Auditor’s office at (406) 444-2040.
“Make sure you have all the facts before you hand your money over to someone else to invest,” Rosendale said.
Rosendale encourages investors to contact his office with any questions about the investment professional they are working with or the product being offered. The Montana State Auditor’s office can be reached at (406) 444-2040 or at www.csimt.gov.