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A doozie of an e-mail investment opportunity filled with red flags

By Dian Vujovich

Florida is a state ripe with scams. In addition to leading the nation in the number of mortgage frauds, the Sunshine State’s number of investment fraudsters continues to grow yet is difficult to count once you get beyond the names that have made the newspapers.

But there is more to being scammed than face-to-face meetings with respectable looking investment types. The Internet has become a quick and easy way to whet someone’s greed appetite and solicit bogus investment opportunities

Last week I received an e-mail inviting me to invest in a Private Placement Program (PPP) promising returns of 20 to 40 percent. The e-mail letter, dated 5/05/11, came from Baden-Baden. I think that Baden-Baden part was supposed to help entice me into thinking if it’s from this classy town in Germany it must be real. Fortunately, I’m not one of the suckers who believe e-mail investment opportunities are real. I’m hoping you’re the same.

If not, let your first clue—as in red flag—to not falling prey to an e-mail investment opportunity begin with who sent it to you. If you don’t know the source, delete it. Follow that with the red flag of a promised double-digit investment return, then a third and forth flag of misspelled words and odd sentence structures. There will be other red flags throughout the e-mail but those four ought to be enough to get you thinking, “No way is this real.”

What follows are three things: First, snippets from PPP investment opportunity I received; second, the email I received after writing the sender and asking for clarification of the offer; and third, three agencies to contact if you’d like to file a complaint.

First, bits from the Private Placement Program e-mail:

“Dear Sirs, (First red flag, I’m not a ‘Sirs’)

“At the moment there is very advantageous for you and your partners offer the possibility to participate in the PPP-Private Placement Program, with the investment amount of 10 -1.250 M USD / Euro (cash, BG, CD, SKR). (Second red flag: An urgent “at the moment” opportunity and poorly written opening line.)

“The expected return is very high and stable yield an investor will be – 20% (at the sum of 10 million), and 40% a week (in total more than 100 million) (Third red flag: Out of this world investment returns or yields and another poorly written sentence.)…”

The e-mail goes continues and points out that your investment dollars will be held in a bank but you’ll need to have a bank account in “Deutschland, Schweiz, England, Frankreich, (Eurozone)” for that to happen. (That’s two more red flags.)

So, I wrote to George, the man whose name appeared in my e-mail to see if he’d respond and to ask a few questions. You’ll be able to figure out those questions by his answers:

“All Conditions in our offer:

1.Minimum 10.000.000 USD, Duration – 40 banking work weeks, Your bank must do MT760

2.Net Yield Investor – 20-40% per week,

3.Money is locked in a bank account of the investor for a period of 30 days,
then the lock is released. These conditions are as prescribed in the text of a
sample of MT 760 from the trader. Or is every 15 days, the statement of the
investors account without any blocking.

4.Payout depends on the amount of investment (the investor will receive a
return on your bank account, 1 time per week or 1 time per month, in agreement with the trader).”

Finally, if you’d like to file a complaint about any investment scam or unsolicited investing opportunities, consider these sources:

•FINRA has jurisdiction over brokerage firms and their employees. Investors can file a complaint at FINRA’s Investor Complaint Center at http://www.finra.org/complaint.

•To file a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission contact:
SEC Complaint Center, 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC 20549-0213
Fax: (202) 772-9295 and Web site: http://www.sec.gov

•Or, contact your state’s securities regulator at:
http://www.nasaa.org/about_nasaa/2062.cfm .

Hope this helps.

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