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Beware: Fraud and online scams emerge in every crisis

Your anxieties make you an easy target for scams.

Afraid of the risk of the stock market but unhappy with the near-zero rates offered by your bank? Well, I have good news for you: I can get you 7.5% returns guaranteed with no stock market risk, no commissions and no surrender fees. The minimum investment is $100,000 and this is limited availability – you must send your money right away to take advantage of this limited-time offer!

Or maybe you’re not afraid of the stock market. In fact, you might be amazed at how stock prices are doing these days. We agree! In fact, we’ve identified five stocks that are poised for a major breakout, and they are certain to triple in value! Call us today to invest – but hurry! Don’t miss these fast and easy profits!

Both of these investment opportunities sound great, don’t they? There’s only one problem: They are both fake. I made them up – to make a point about scams and fraudulent misrepresentation.

By playing to your emotions, it’s easy for you to abandon logic and common sense. How could anyone legitimately offer a 7.5% guaranteed return when the Federal Reserve has set interest rates near zero? It makes no sense. No one can predict what will happen next in the stock market – and if they did somehow know, why would they bother to tell you? They’d be busy investing in the stocks themselves! It’s illogical to think they’d contact a total stranger. And yet, millions of people fall victim to fraudulent pitches like these every day.

Often, your guard is down because the idea is brought to you by someone you know – a friend or family member, perhaps someone in your congregation. I’m not suggesting that the people you know are frauds or in on the scam; I’m saying they were scammed, too, and they don’t know it yet! So, they are well-meaning – but just as harmful as the crooks themselves.

Covid-19 is posing enough challenges to your personal finances. Don’t add fraud victim to the list. If you encounter an investment idea that seems appealing, even from someone you know, do your homework before investing any money. Speak with a trusted financial advisor, or go to sec.gov/check-your-investment-professional, to help determine whether the folks you are dealing with are legitimate.

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