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Consumer protection week

Staff Report

Next week is national Consumer Protection Week.

Secretary of State Dean Heller said his office and his securities division are joining national and local agencies to bring attention to financial schemes being used around the country to prey on consumers. This year’s theme is “Financial Literacy: Earning a Lifetime of Dividends.”

Heller said the national Association of Securities Administrators has released its list of “Top Ten Scams, Schemes and Scandals” to warn people.

That list warns investors against, among others:

– Ponzi Schemes where investors are promised extremely high returns for their money but the operators use money from new investors to pay previous investors. The schemes inevitably collapse because of the huge base of new victims it takes to keep the scheme afloat.

– Senior investment fraud aimed at older investors promising inflated returns by investing in unregistered securities, promissory notes and charitable gift annuities.

– Promissory notes which are often sold by independent insurance agents but are issued by many times non-existent companies promising high returns. Sometimes the issuer of the note simply never delivers the returns.

– Unscrupulous brokers who cut corners or resort to outright fraud to take money from investors.

– “Affinity Fraud” which often uses the victim’s religious or ethic background to gain their trust and defraud them.

Heller said brochures addressing those and other scams are available at the secretary of state’s Web site: secretaryofstate.biz under the Securities Division icon.