The list was developed by surveying members of the North American Securities Administrators Association, of which the Maine Office of Securities is a member, to identify threats investors are likely to see in 2020. The following were most frequently identified by NASAA members as the top five areas of concern for the coming year:
Real Estate-related Investments
Cryptocurrency-related Investment Products
Social Media/Internet-based Investment Schemes
"It is important for investors to understand what they are investing in and who they are investing with. Dont fall for promises of guaranteed high returns with little to no risk or deals pitched with a false sense of urgency or limited availability," said Administrator Shaw, in a Dec. 23 news release. “Before you ring in the New Year, make a resolution to protect your money from fraudulent investments and those who may be trying to fleece you.”
Investment offers that sound too good to be true often share similar characteristics. The most common telltale sign of an investment scam is an offer of guaranteed high returns with no risk. All investments carry the risk that some, or all, of the invested funds could be lost. Anyone who says their investment offer has no risk is lying, Administrator Shaw said. No one can guarantee an investment return. Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Many of the threats facing investors involve private offerings, which are exempt from federal securities registration requirements and are not sold through public stock exchanges. Unregistered private offerings generally are high-risk investments and dont have the same investor protection requirements as investments sold through public markets, Shaw said.
Investors should always ask if the salesperson and the investment itself are properly licensed or registered.
This information can be confirmed by the Maine Office of Securities. Working with a properly licensed investment professional affords investors certain legal protections. For the same reasons you wouldnt go to an unlicensed doctor or dentist, you should avoid unregistered investment salespeople and their products. Anyone offering to sell a security without a license is breaking the law and should be avoided, Administrator Shaw said.
Administrator Shaw urged anyone who has questions about investing to contact the Maine Office of Securities. Information about advisers, salespersons and investing is available at www.investors.maine.gov, by calling 1-877-624-8551 or writing to the Maine Office of Securities, 121 SHS, Augusta, Maine 04333-0121.