Be extremely wary of wealth enhancement seminars

We continue to have concerns about so-called “wealth enhancement” seminars taking place across the country. Recently, the BC Securities Commission has become aware of seminars that are taking place in Vancouver and Calgary.

In Calgary, a company called eConventus is scheduled to conduct a seminar on May 28th and 29th. eConventus is a private BC company that has previously operated seminars at locations throughout the Lower Mainland. The company will hold a seminar at a hotel in Richmond on June 18 and 19.

In Vancouver, a company called Peak Potential Training is scheduled to conduct its Millionaire Mind seminar on June 24th to 26th. Peak Potential Training is based in North Vancouver.

Anyone considering attending these seminars would be well-advised to think twice and do their research. A good place to start is David Baines’ column on seminars 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.”

In addition to eConventus Holdings (BC) Ltd and Peak Potential Training, Baines also talks about DollarMakers, based in Coquitlam, BC. We seem to have more than our share of these types of companies based in BC.

Why are we concerned? Well, we’ve seen cases where investors have lost millions to companies offering financial education seminars.

For example, there was a case in Alberta called Kustom Design Financial Services Inc. This company held seminars supposedly offering financial education. As it turned out, the seminar was merely a cover for the illegal selling of securities to vulnerable investors. Three companies, Kustom Design Financial Services Inc., Kustom Design Group and Hightide Management Inc. raised more than $8 million by luring investors to financial and tax planning seminars where they illegally offered and sold investments to attendees.

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

“Wealth experts” may be offering a “free” seminar, but their ultimate goal is for it to be anything but free. Even if they don’t offer investments, they often try and get you to pay membership fees or entice you to attend seminars in far-off locations.

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 a cheque. It’s a magic moment that can turn into a tragic event. Don’t do it. Don’t even go to the seminar.

Our Investor Watch on wealth enhancement seminars gives some tips on how to protect yourself before handing over any money. We also talk about seminars in the Investor Protection section of our website.