Learn how to protect yourself against online scams

With Fraud Prevention Month winding down, I thought it would be a good time to point people to a special information feature in the Globe and Mail’s Special Reports section.

The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) and other organizations participated in a three-page supplement that ran at the end of the Globe’s business section on March 22, 2011. We posted it to InvestRight in our “Tools for investors” section, and it will remain on the Globe’s website for 90 days.

The feature focuses on how different kinds of scams are perpetrated online. The articles in the feature warn that this problem is only going to grow as more people use digital devices to pay bills, buy things, and invest.

In April 2010, a BCSC panel banned an international website that was soliciting investors in B.C. with promises of returns of as much as 1.9 per cent a day and 9 per cent weekly – that translates into nearly 500 per cent in a year.

To sum it up briefly, Genius Funds solicited two B.C. investors: one wired $25,000 to the company; the other did not. BCSC staff received a tip about this transaction from a financial institution in February 2010, and a temporary order was issued against Genius Funds.

In April 2010, a BCSC panel permanently banned Genius Funds for illegally selling securities through its website and offering investors a rate of return so high it could not be earned through legal means.

Genius Funds did not attend the hearing. It is now on the BCSC’s Investment Caution list.

At the time, we spent a lot time blogging about Genius Funds and High-Yield Investment Programs (HYIPs). Take some time to read these posts, and spend some time looking through our Investor Protection section.

Finally, remember, if you think you know of or suspect a scam, report it through the “Talk to Us” button the home page or by calling us toll free at 1-800-373-6393.