Securities News Releases

Monday, June 18, 2012
Contact: Ryan Hobart, (573) 526-0949

Carnahan Warns of the Top Threats Facing Missouri Investors in 2012

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan today announced the top threats facing investors in 2012.

The Missouri Secretary of State’s Securities Division annually takes a close look at recent complaints, investigations and enforcement actions to identify the top threats facing Missouri investors. Simply knowing these common threats may help you to spot a scam. Also, learning the tips to protect your savings may help you avoid a loss before it is too late.

“Scam artists are constantly looking for new ways to defraud investors out of their hard-earned money. Understanding these threats will help Missourians protect their savings,” Carnahan said. “My office has returned more than $2 billion to Missouri investors, and we’ve taken action to bar unfit brokers from our state and send the very worst offenders to prison. However, the best line of defense against fraud is being informed about potential scams.”

The report below also contains three important steps Missourians can take to protect their savings. While in office, Carnahan has sent safe investing information to hundreds of thousands of seniors across the state. Her office also attends events statewide throughout the year to educate Missourians on safe investing.

Missourians can get more information on investment fraud and how to safeguard their money by visiting Carnahan’s investor protection website at www.MissouriInvestorProtection.gov or by calling the Investor Protection Hotline at 1-800-721-7996.

Top Threats to Missouri Investors in 2012

Online pitches: The growth of online social networking and new federal laws are leading to a flurry of Internet sales pitches. Online investment opportunities offered by start-up companies with no operating history may have limited or no disclosures, and scam artists are very creative about luring in new, unknowing victims.

Unlicensed salesmen: Questionable recommendations and unfulfilled promises from salesmen who are not licensed to sell securities are all too common. And too often salesmen licensed only to sell life insurance also pitch investment opportunities. Giving advice to buy or sell stocks, mutual funds or other securities requires a specific license in Missouri.

Risky startups: Be wary of promoters pushing a new business idea without financial statements, a thorough business plan, owner background or other traditional documents about a startup business.  New business investments, whether involving alternative energy, real estate, new technology, animal sciences or other interesting ideas, are inherently risky, and all promises of returns, guarantees and collateral must be thoroughly investigated and reviewed.

Brokers with special offers: Despite a recent market rebound, some brokers are warning investors to exit traditional investments and instead invest with a broker who is offering a special or limited opportunity. Recently, we’ve seen these special offers turn out to be nothing more than Ponzi Schemes, sometimes even when the broker works for an otherwise credible firm.

Commodities and Futures: Investors are being flooded with promises or guarantees of returns in gold, oil/gas futures and other commodities. Remember, no investment is guaranteed and all markets fluctuate, and fraudsters have identified commodities markets as fertile grounds for growing their scams.

How can you protect your savings?

In recent years, weve helped Missourians recover more than $2 billion in savings and cracked down on scams, bad investment advice and financial fraud. These simple steps can help protect your savings.

Call to Check

Every time you consider a new investment or a new broker, or if you have concerns that your money is being mishandled, call the Investor Protection Hotline at 1-800-721-7996. It just takes a minute, and its the best way to protect your savings.

Get It on Paper

Make sure you receive complete documents that explain all the fees, costs and charges before you invest. Tell anyone offering you an investment that you want a prospectus and, if real estate is involved, proof of ownership.

Understand Your Goals

Before deciding on an investment, determine when you may need to access your money, how much risk you can handle, and what taxes and fees you will have to pay. Then, make sure that your financial advisor understands your goals.

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To find out more about Missouri's Secretary of State's office, visit www.sos.mo.gov

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