RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) –The Better Business Bureau has a warning about Investment Seminar Scams. They say before you sit in on a seminar, do some research and make sure you know what you are getting into.
They say a little research and common sense may go a long way -- and save you from losing thousands of dollars. "The signs of a scam are speed, secrecy, and selecting," says Tom Gallagher with The Better Business Bureau.
He says the reason they are issuing this alert is due to a downward spiral of the economy. He says right now a lot of people are looking for a quick way to make some easy cash.
The BBB says one way people are enticed to show up and sit through one of these investment seminars is by being offered a free lunch. "I just sort of put that as fattening me up for the kill. There is no such thing as a free lunch," says Gallagher.
The experts say it may sound harmless, but if you are not careful, a free lunch could leave you swindled out of thousands of dollars.
"They are saying, you let us tell you how to do this and invest in the stones or the gold or the currency or whatever it may be and you are investing in something you don't know anything about, your are really vulnerable," says Gallagher.
If you plan on attending one of these investment seminars, here are some red flags to watch out for: The seminar requires a large up-front investment, it promises high returns for low-risk, employs high pressure sales tactics, relies on off-shore investments or finally, it sounds too good to be true.
"If somebody is just coming into town and has an offering at a hotel or restaurant there is not permanency to this. I am not willing to say that's always a bad thing but I am willing to say you have to take a look at that and understand where you are going to go if you have questions," says Gallagher. He says your best defense is you.
"It's the best piece of consumer protection that's ever been passed, it's the Constitution and the First Amendment. It gives us the right to say no; nobody can protect us like we can protect ourselves," says Gallagher.
The Better Business Bureau says people should remember that when you are investing your money -- you are in business for yourself. They say there is always a risk of losing money, even if the investment is legit.