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"Free Food. Free Golf. Free Drinks." "Dinner is On Us!" "Act now!" Investment seminar pitches like these abound in areas with large populations of retirees and US regulators are warning seniors to be wary.
People 60 and older make up 15percent of the US's population but account for about 30percent of fraud victims. About $16trillion (about R115trillion) is held by households headed by people 50 or older and regulators expect an increase in scams targeting retired baby boomers.
While their promoters paint the "free lunch" seminars as educational sessions, sometimes promising that nothing will be sold, "they are designed to sell - either at the seminar itself or later," said Lori Richards, director of the Security and Exchange Commission's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations. "They're not educational events."
In the past two years, the Security and Exchange Commission has brought more than 40 enforcement cases involving alleged fraud against seniors, many in co-ordination with state authorities.
The investigation conducted by the Security and Exchange Commission, state regulators and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority found the use of scare tactics to get seniors to question their current investments, claims of fantastic returns with no risk, and "ringers in the audience who would stand up and offer testimonials of how much they had earned. - AP