What is an Investment scam?
An investment scam is a fake investment opportunity which is typically very appealing and highly convincing. The scammers would claim to be financial professionals and lure victims on online platforms. The investment products usually promise unrealistic, attractive returns and come with tight deadlines to invest by.
Scammers post as investment gurus or share-trading experts. These “experts” tell their victims that the share price of a certain “high quality” company will soon increase significantly and encourage them to invest. Once the share prices rise, these fraudsters quickly sell their holdings for a profit. This causes the price to plunge and the victims are left with the losses. This is called a “pump and dump” scam.
Victims are required to pay administrative fees, security fees or taxes to reap or unlock the profits. Once the funds are transferred over, the scammers would disappear and remain uncontactable.
How do I spot the signs?
Scammers usually promise high returns and use pressure tactics. Be wary of:
– People offering investment returns that are unreasonably high at low or no risk
– Getting pressurised to make quick decisions to invest due to timelines
– Online trading, particularly involving binary options which are attractive and promise quick returns. However, they are extremely risky, and many platforms offering binary trading options are fraudulent.
– Unfamiliar financial entities based outside of Singapore.
How do I stay safe?
Invest cautiously – Ask, Check, Confirm. Ask for video calls. Check that the person is listed on Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Register of Representatives (https://eservices.mas.gov.sg/rr). Confirm that the person is who they claim to be by calling up the Financial Institution they represent. They often pose as investment gurus or share-trading experts.
Understand what you are buying and never take up offers of investments on the spot from cold calls. Ensure that the investment fits your financial goals and keep updated with the latest scams on www.scamalert.sg
Do not trust something you found on the internet without thoroughly checking it out.
Check if an entity is blacklisted on the MAS Investor Alert List. Deal with companies that are licensed and regulated by MAS.
Be careful when dealing with unregulated entities as you will have little recourse if things go wrong. If an entity is based outside of Singapore, check if it is regulated with the respective overseas authority.
Learn to avoid becoming a victim by taking the anti-scam quiz by the National Crime Prevention Council.