GAMES THEY PLAY

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Crime Watch -

While in­vest­ment scams can take many guises, here are a few that were used over the past year.

BINARY OP­TIONS

TRAD­ING This high­risk form of trad­ing bets on whether a stock or com­mod­ity price will go up or down. If you (or the trad­ing sig­nals soft­ware most real bro­kers use) pre­dict cor­rectly, you profit. If you’re wrong, you’ll lose your en­tire out­lay. While it’s le­gal in AU and NZ, many rep­utable in­vestors steer away from binary op­tions be­cause of that risk. Scam­mers en­cour­age this style of trad­ing by em­pha­sis­ing the quick re­turns and their ‘ex­tremely ac­cu­rate’ soft­ware. They ask peo­ple to open an ac­count (which has an es­tab­lish­ment fee) and then to ‘in­vest’ for big re­turns. But when in­vestors want to with­draw their ‘win­nings’, they hit a brick wall – they are told there was a sud­den loss and are en­cour­aged to in­vest more, or the peo­ple they are deal­ing with sim­ply dis­ap­pear.

CRYP­TOCUR­REN­CIES

(BIT­COIN) As Bit­coin’s price surged from

roughly US$900 to US$20,000 in the sec­ond half of 2017, so did the num­ber of scams of­fer­ing peo­ple a chance to ‘in­vest’ in the cryp­tocur­rency. Pop­u­larised by Face­book ads and in on­line fo­rums, the scams asked peo­ple to in­vest in ‘clubs’ that would band to­gether to pur­chase Bit­coin and reap the ben­e­fits of the cryp­tocur­rency’s spec­tac­u­lar climb in value. But those who did in­vest found their money went into bo­gus ac­counts and was lost.

OF­FERS TO BUY YOUR

SHARES This type of scam is very el­e­gant as it of­ten ap­pears le­git­i­mate. Scam­mers tar­get peo­ple who are gen­uine share­hold­ers and use of­fi­cial-look­ing let­ter­heads with names that sound like the com­pany you have in­vested in to ini­ti­ate a share ‘buy­back’. Usu­ally you will even be paid, but the amount will ei­ther be much lower than your shares’ worth or the pay­ments are spread over a long pe­riod of time. If you feel an of­fer to buy shares might be le­git­i­mate, make sure you first check the com­pany’s list­ing on the stock ex­change for its cur­rent value and re­cent shares per­for­mance.

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