Identify Con Artists

There are people who put themselves forward as legitimate advisors who actually want to steal your money. There are also people who try to take your money by selling you a fictitious investment product or strategy. You need to know how to identify these people to avoid falling for their scams.

What does a scam artist look like?

Scam artists look like you and me. They often look professional. Sometimes they have impressive offices and addresses, so you will think they are legitimate professionals. They can be very intelligent. They know how to be extremely sociable and charming. If you catch them in a lie, they will make up another lie so quickly that you will seldom, if ever, notice.

How does a scam artist do business?

For a scam to work, fraudsters need to gain your complete trust and confidence. They will instill in you a sense of security, and make you feel dependant on them for financial guidance. This will keep you interested in investing more money. They may also encourage you to recruit your friends and family.

After you invest, the contact with the fraudster will dwindle, and it may stop altogether. They will use your financial dependency on them as a threat to stop you from taking any action.

What does a scam artist do with your money?  

Sometimes money acquired by the con artist is quickly transferred to an offshore account. In other instances it is simply withdrawn, put in their pockets, and spent on personal items like houses, vacation homes, expensive trips, and cars. By the time you find out about the scam, the money is usually gone.

How can you stop a scam artist?

Even though someone is offering you a great investment and it sounds like you will be missing out if you don’t invest, it’s okay to say ‘no’. This may not be the right investment for you, even if it’s legitimate.

Don’t let the scammer get you twice. Some people go along with another scheme in which the fraudster promises to make good on the original money lost and generate new returns. Though it is understandable you would want to make up for the money lost, the usual result is that you lose even more.

How can you protect yourself against a scam artists?

Many of the fictitious investments fraud artists promise high returns but provide little, if any, disclosure of risks. These schemes are outlined in the Common investment schemes section of our website. You can also learn how to identify investment scams in our Spot investment scams section. For a handy print-out to post on the fridge or share with friends, download Telltale signs of investment fraud  PDF document

You should also do a background check on anyone offering to sell you investments. If an unregistered person is on the CSA Disciplined Persons List, report it immediately. Individuals who have been disciplined by the BCSC and other securities regulators appear on this list.

How can you report a scam artist?

If you suspect someone has approached you, your family and/or friends with an investment scam or you feel you may have been the victim of an inappropriate investment scheme, you should report it. Without your assistance, scam artists remain free to take advantage of others.

In BC, contact BCSC Inquiries. You can also anonymously report suspicious activity through InvestRight’s Report a scam webpage. 

Residents from other Canadian provinces can find contact information for their provincial securities regulator at
www.securities-administrators.ca.