Kiplinger’s has an article that lists a few “financial meltdown” themed scams that are out there taking advantage of people lately.
There are some old favorites and some new ones, too.
- Foreign Currency Scams — These scammers offer outrageous returns on investments in foreign currency — taking advantage of the volatility of the dollar to trick consumers into believing their lies. Kiplinger’s says:
For example, in May 2008 the SEC charged Las Vegas-based Gold-Quest International with running a Ponzi scheme that raised more than $27 million from 2,100 investors by promising profits of 87.5% from trading foreign currency. Ouch.
- Energy Scams — Cold callers have been pitching complicated oil and gas scams and soaring energy prices made consumers greedy.
In one such case, the SEC recently charged Donald Allen of Colorado Springs and his two companies of defrauding investors by diverting for his personal use more than $2.3 million raised in a series of oil-and-gas deals.
- Debt Negotiation Scams — The financial meltdown has left millions behind on their bills — and scammers are ready to offer them a helping hand… Kiplinger’s says:
For example, the Federal Trade Commission last fall censured four companies that falsely claimed they could reduce clients’ debts by up to 60%. The companies had also advised clients to stop paying their bills without telling them they could be sued by creditors. And the four falsely told clients they could help repair credit reports.
- Bank Phishing — Bank consolidation has put a new twist on the same old bank phishing scams. Kiplinger’s says:
Popular phishing schemes — e-mails designed to get you to relinquish private security information, including your Social Security number — falsely tell you your bank has been acquired. The FTC gives this example: “We recently purchased ABC Bank. Due to concerns for the safety and integrity of our new online-banking customers, we have issued this warning message … Please follow the link below to renew your account information.”
- Reverse Mortgages — Reverse mortgages aren’t a scam — but some scammers try to tack on other products as a condition of the mortgage. Kiplinger’s says:
Outright fraud is rare, although it does occur; one adviser pocketed $42,000 from a reverse-mortgage payout without his client knowing.
A more common problem: obliging reverse-mortgage applicants to buy additional products or services as part of the loan agreement. Lanier, the Florida official, says some reverse-mortgage providers push clients to buy deferred annuities. These insurance products can come with high fees and tie up cash that the borrower may need immediately. New rules from HUD prohibit lenders from linking reverse mortgages with other products.
For more information about these and other scams, check out the full article.