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Be careful of investment seminars

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from reading the Canadian Securities Administrators’ 2010 Enforcement Report.

Read, for example, the Alberta case called Kustom Design Financial Services Inc. This is a company which held seminars supposedly offering financial education. It was, instead, a cover for the illegal selling of securities to vulnerable investors. Three companies, Kustom Design Financial Services Inc., Kustom Design Group and Hightide Management raised more than $8 million by luring investors to financial and tax planning seminars where they illegally offered and sold investments to attendees.

Not only was most of that money lost, but Canada Revenue Agency rejected investors’ ability to claim tax losses on these investments, as was promised to them in the seminars.

Read as well, David Baines’ column in the Vancouver Sun. He talks about “wealth experts” who use financial seminars as a way to get at investors’ hard earned money. In these seminars, slick salespeople promise great returns, the opportunity to “retire in less than a year with more regular, passive income than you need to live on.”

He talks about DollarMakers, based in Coquitlam BC; Peak Potential Training based in North Vancouver; and eConventus Holdings (BC) Ltd. which has been running seminars in Richmond BC. We seem to have more than our share of these types of companies based in British Columbia.

These “wealth experts” may be offering a “free” seminar, but their ultimate goal is for it to be anything but free.

The power of these seminars is that they dazzle you with incredible promises. They try to create that magic moment that entices you to write the cheque. It’s a magic moment that can turn into a tragic event. Don’t do it. Don’t even go to the seminar.