Too good to be true
It’s been a horror week for headlines about people doing unconscionably, unbelievably, stupid things with money.
There have been stories about money mules, ponzi schemes, mortgage crooks, and stupidly overpriced Forex trading schemes.
I spent much of the past week investigating how the equity held in a bunch of old people’s homes had been transformed into shares in a finance company paying no dividends. Horrible, horrible stuff and each one raises the same question: How could they have been so stupid?
But it is the wrong question and assuming they were driven by greed is equally unfair.
I’ve met too many ‘‘victims’’ to dismiss them lightly, too many to do readers the disservice of advising them: ‘‘If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.’’
I could repeat it a million times and it’d make no difference.
Years ago I had a shouting match over the boardroom table with Blue Chip’s Mark Bryers.
It was back in the days before his apartment- spruiking scheme collapsed leaving lives ruined.
Bryers just rubbed me up the wrong way.
How could anyone be sucked in by a person like this, I pondered for years afterwards.
And then I saw some film of him working a crowd of potential investors. He was good, very good, with a certain type of person.
I’ve seen others like Bryers at work. They each know how to work their particular sales target.
No doubt there is one out there who has the right patter to catch you with whatever their awful scheme is.
Just hope you never meet him and when someone comes to you with a money-making scheme, by phone, email, or in person, or you spot something that could turn your finances around, take my advice: Talk, talk, talk.
Talk to your dad about it. Talk to your neighbour. Talk to your friend.
Go and have a chat to the bank manager. Talk to the most financially literate person you know.
Talk to the best educated person you know.
Run the idea past people. Run the paperwork past them.
And if everyone you know is doing it – for example, the members of your church – go and talk to people who are not members.
And don’t just ask: Listen. Don’t seek confirmation: Seek their genuine opinions.
I am suggesting you crowd-source second opinions, and third and fourth.
It increases the chance of you smelling the rat.