Bonds Exchanges are notorious for phony investments and high-risk deals. Some Wall Street providers rig auctions or pay kickbacks to other banks. High-pressure sales tactics are also common. Avoid any company offering high-risk investments. Here are some tips to protect yourself from these scams:
Imposter bond scams
The imposter bond scam is one of the most common ways to lose money investing in bonds. Many people are swept up by this scam when they search for an investment opportunity online. This type of scam is typically conducted by impersonating a real financial institution or bank. These imposters claim to offer government bonds, fixed term deposits, or other investment opportunities. The victims of these scams are usually lured into sending large amounts of money to a bank account and never checking the account for months.
These scammers pose as reputable investment companies and collect contact details online. They then pressure people to invest in bogus securities and direct them to deposit funds into a phony bank account. Often, this money is lost for good, and the victim may never recover it.
Another common form of imposter bond scams on the bond exchanges is through the marketing of green bonds. These bonds are meant to fund environmental or climate change projects. These bonds are not available to the public, but rather to managed investment schemes.
High Yield Investment Programs
High Yield Investment Programs, also called private placement programs, are highly fraudulent investment programs that prey on unsuspecting investors. Many of these investment schemes are hidden behind highly secretive marketing techniques. Many of them claim to be affiliated with international organizations or the Federal Reserve. The problem with these schemes is that they often mislead investors into paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for historically-valued bonds that they do not actually own.
These investment programs are run by unscrupulous individuals who are largely unregulated. The most common HYIP scam involves the promise of extremely high returns. Some of these programs promise annual returns of 30 to 40%. Some may also use terms such as "prime bank" to lure investors.
A high-yield investment program is a Ponzi scheme. The scammers lure new investors by promising high returns with minimal risk. Unfortunately, the scheme's real purpose is to take money from new investors in order to pay off older investors. In reality, the money is not invested, and the scammers walk away with the victims' money.
Investing in overseas companies
Investing in bonds in overseas companies comes with risks. The companies that offer these investments aren't registered with the Securities Division and therefore aren't protected from fraud. The overseas companies can also use extortion tactics to get you to invest money with them. They may try to swap your current investment for a new one, or convince you that it's worth more than you paid. They may even threaten you with legal action. Another risk is that you may receive an unexpected demand for additional insurance or taxes.
The company's website may look legitimate and professional, but the information provided is incomplete or misleading. Some fraudulent sites fail to provide basic information, such as company management and location. They also don't provide detailed information about the investment itself, including the risks. They may also fail to provide written information on how to withdraw your money if you discover that you've been scammed.
You should also check the company's incorporation and annual report with your securities regulator. If the company promoter is getting compensated for touting the investment, you should question their integrity. Also, the company's stock may be only traded in small amounts and don't reflect the book value or fundamentals of the company.
Investing in Australian companies
Imposter Bond scams have been targeting investors who are looking to invest in bonds issued by Australian companies. These scams use a copy of the legitimate AOFM products available on the ASX to deceive investors into thinking that the bonds are authentic. To avoid getting caught out by such scams, only invest in bonds issued by legitimate financial services providers and in a registered managed investment scheme. You can check the registration details of financial services providers and registered financial planners by visiting ASIC's website. If you suspect you may be a victim of an investment scam, it is vital that you report the matter to ASIC and Australian Cyber Security Centre.
Scammers are often persistent and have professional looking websites. They may even pretend to be affiliated with a legitimate company, but in reality, they are just an unscrupulous entity operating from an offshore location. It is also advisable to look for a genuine company if you are unsure of what is happening with the investment.