The Wolf is Always at the Door—Especially at Christmas
The holiday season is approaching, and with the excitement of giving comes an increased risk of being taken—as a victim of an investment scam. Scammers are constantly honing their skills and tactics and use them with abandon during the holiday season.
Ironically, scheduled for release this Christmas, December 25, 2013, is the movie, "The Wolf of Wall Street". It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, the New York stock swindler convicted of securities fraud crimes in 2004. He served 22 months in federal prison for stealing from investors and was ordered to pay restitution of $110 million dollars.
How did he do it? Belfort was a master of the art of persuasion. He started a brokerage firm and hired salespeople to convince potential investors to buy the firm's penny stocks. His main tool was a script he created for his salespeople to use in cold calls. The callers dialed a number from a phone bank, recited Belfort's finely-crafted script, and sold millions of penny stocks to investors who never saw a dime in return. Jordan and his company made millions scamming people who were 1) attracted by the low-risk the "penny stock" idea projected, and 2) hoodwinked by Jordan's persuasive tactics.
Most scam artists are masters of persuasion. Persuasive tactics can fool anyone from the least sophisticated investor to the most sophisticated. In the work we do at Meyer Wilson, we've seen many such tactics used on individuals who've fallen prey to Ponzi schemes and other investment scams.
Beware this holiday season of the following persuasive statements scammers use in phone calls, in-person solicitations, emails, and mobile messages:
Also avoid giving any personal or investment information to someone who 1) uses your first name as if they know you; 2) uses a brokerage firm name you've never heard of; 3) asks you how much you can start investing with; or 4) tells you the salespeople only earn a minimum commission.