I really wish this heading was a myth but as our devices and their connections get more sophisticated, so do the scammers.  Here are the top scams to be wary of, straight from the NASAA:

  1.  Promissory Notes–  As fixed income sources continue to languish, retirees will consider almost anything to increase their guaranteed income.  As pointed out in the press release, normally such notes are sold to large sophisticated or institutional investors who can confirm the notes’ backers’ capacity to repay the loans.  WARNING:  these are marketed to individuals as short term notes, less than 9 months, to avoid securities registration requirements. Unsure?  Check with your state’s securities division.  Oregon’s is  In addition, check to be sure the firm and representatives selling you the note are licensed and registered in your state.  Otherwise, turn them in!  I was pitched 12 mo. mortgage backed securities this year that turned out to be unregistered.  Oregon issues a cease and desist letter.
  2. Real estate & pyramid schemes were second most reported scams.
  3. Oil & Gas related schemes ranked 3rd.  But really?  You’re going to support this industry that is killing our climate?
  4. Affinity fraud– to me this is the most outrageous of scams, where groups with high implied trust are targeted by scammers.  This can be your church, sports team, co-workers, ethnic or professional groups.  Because of the implied trust of these groups you should be more suspicious of any financial offerings within them.
  5. Variable Annuity sales practices–  These intricate, expensive and risky products can still have appropriate uses.  But they are inappropriate for most retirees since there are far safer, less costly annuity alternatives.  Always ask why this product is the #1 recommendation.

Scams clamoring for top billing in 2018 all involve the criminal misuse of technology:

  1. Initial coin offerings (ICOs).  That would be virtual coins, not collector coins.  Need I say more?  Not sure how much room there is in the market for BitCoin wannabes.
  2. Cryptocurrency contracts for difference (CFDs)– prohibited in the USA, for good reason, even if the platforms presented to you are legit, here is a great way to exponentially multiply your losses.  As Keith Woodwell (NASAA Enforcement Section chair) puts it, “There are red flags waving everywhere:.

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