ASC warns investors of top risks for 2016

CALGARY, Jan. 15, 2016 /CNW/ - The Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) today released a list of the top investor risks it foresees for 2016.  The list was compiled from information collected by the ASC's enforcement team and public inquiries office:

  • Being a baby boomer: Baby boomers are the largest and wealthiest generation in Canada's history, making them a lucrative target for scam artists. Given the low-yield environment for lower-risk investments over the past several years, a common concern in this age group is that they have not saved enough; scammers will prey on this fear by promoting "investments" with high rates of return and low risk, which is a key red flag of fraud. To avoid falling victim to securities fraud, learn how to identify the red flags.

  • Investing with unregistered salespeople and companies: Before investing, it is essential that you check the registration of the person or company offering you the investment. With limited exceptions, anyone selling securities or offering investment advice in Alberta must be registered with the ASC.  Check registration here.

  • Enabling pump and dump schemes:  Albertans are being asked to allow their name to be used in "business deals" and pose as a shareholder, director or official of a public company. These companies are usually quoted on U.S. over–the-counter "OTC" markets and those operating them are actually executing illegal "pump and dump" schemes.  Part of the "deal" is to sign bogus documents and money may be offered in exchange. The reason the person is asked to represent the company is that the fraudsters need someone with a clean record. When the scam is eventually uncovered, the names of those posing as company representatives will forever be linked to fraud even if they were unaware of the scheme.  Learn more about this scam here.

  • Investing in binary options scams: Recently, many Albertans have fallen victim to binary options scams. Binary options are a risky and complicated type of investment. They are essentially "bets" as to whether the value of an asset will increase or decrease in a fixed (and often very short) period of time.  Many of the platforms on which binary options trade operate overseas and are not registered with or regulated by the ASC. To sell binary options in Alberta, you must be registered with the ASC. Click here to learn more.

  • Relying on social media and the internet to make investing decisions: Since social media has become mainstream, many people turn to chat rooms and Facebook groups for information, advice or recommendations on investment opportunities.  In some cases, these online sources of information contain misleading and untrue information contributed by scam artists to entice you to invest.  Learn more here.

"Knowledge is power. Educating yourself and asking lots of questions about an opportunity before investing is an important step in protecting yourself and your financial future, " said Alison Trollope, Director, Communications and Investor Education at the ASC. "The ASC has a wide range of free tools and resources to help Albertans become informed investors, which are available on our consumer website"

The ASC is the regulatory agency responsible for administering the province's securities laws. It is entrusted with fostering a fair and efficient capital market in Alberta and with protecting investors.  As a member of the Canadian Securities Administrators, the ASC works to improve, coordinate and harmonize the regulation of Canada's capital markets.

SOURCE Alberta Securities Commission

For further information: For Media Inquiries: Mark Dickey, Senior Communications Advisor, 403.297.4481; For Investor Inquiries: ASC Public Inquiries, Toll Free 1.877.355.4488


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