Avoiding fraud – with money or love

Avoiding fraud - with money or love
Men would invest in this investment right away

I found a short article from the CFA Institute, an association for investment professionals, where they offer tips on avoiding investment fraud. So if you’re going to invest money, this is what they say you should do to avoid being conned. (And no, they did not use the above photo in their article.)

Do you understand the investment? Were you hypnotized by some great big impressive words?

If the investment offers you big benefits (such as getting lots of money from giving them just a little money), it’s a bigger risk. If someone says you’ll get big benefits with no risk, it’s simply not true. Making more money means your risks are higher. More risk for you = more reward for you. Less risk for you = less reward for you.

What does a reputable outside agency say about the investment?

Do you know the source of the investment information? If you get an anonymous email with a great deal, it’s unsolicited and unknown. If you read a comment on a web site, no matter how good it sounds, you don’t know the source.

Are you offered some sort of special access or membership, which allows you to get the good deal? Are you being offered this because you’re a member of a certain group or religion or church or club or ethnicity, or friends with the "right people"? Be suspicious.

If you want to take your money out of the investment, how do you do it? How exactly do you get out?

What kinds of regulations cover your investment? Is it insured if something goes wrong? If it’s overseas, there are different regulations. Do you know what they are?

Is there an organization behind your investment, with some sort of infrastructure?

Are there any checks and balances against fraud, or is everything concerning your investment all handled by the same person?

Has anybody audited the organization? (And the audit should be independent.)

Who are the people handling your investment? Do they have experience, training, education… and no felony convictions?

Perform a background check. (Investors can use the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority or FINRA.)

You should diversify your investments, which is a very old principle, also known as "don’t put all your eggs in one basket, stupid." What if you lose everything from one investment? If you have less than 10% of your money there, you’ll be angry, but you won’t be wiped out.

CFA Institute Offers 10 Tips on Avoiding Investment Fraud >>

I thought that these guidelines made a lot of sense. Of course, in the cold hard light of reality, when you don’t have visions of getting rich staring into your subconscious, of course they make a lot of sense. They probably make sense in other areas, too, even if we don’t follow them. I wondered how the same guidelines would translate into relationship advice. Did they make sense? Turns out they do:

Were you taken in by fancy talk?

If the relationship seems really hot (they have a good personality, great looks, stable job, inheritance coming…) there’s more risk. They also might have a hidden personality, crazy exes, workaholic tendencies, or a nutty family. Or if they are "perfect," others might want to steal them away.) So, more risk for you = more reward for you. Less risk for you = less reward for you.

What do your friends say? (Especially your friends who tell you the truth.)

Did you meet anonymously, via a web site, or by accident?

Do you like your new lover because they’re also members of your religion or group or church or club or ethnicity, or friends with the "right people"?

How do you end the relationship? (If they move in right away, how can they move out?)

Are there any regulations covering this relationship? (Regulations like: is he or she already married?)

If the person is "verified" by another as being a good person, is that one person the only person doing the verification?

What are the friends and family like?

You could perform a background check, if you have a lot to lose (such as lots of money.)

You should diversify your affections. I’m not advocating simultaneous relationships, unless that works for you, but if the new relationship cuts you off from all your friends and family, that’s wrong. If you invest in the relationship and it doesn’t work out, you might be angry or sad, but you won’t be wiped out.

Note: unfortunately, there is no professional organization that your potential partner can join.

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