Investment Fraud is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as the illegal activity of providing false information to someone so that they will invest in something.
You may or may not have heard of the various schemes promising heaven on earth returns to investors. One of those that has picked my attention in the recent past is D9. Rumored to be registered in Brazil and Hong Kong, it seems to have taken the gullible folks in Uganda by storm. Matters have been worsened by endorsement from men of the robes like Pastor Mark Kigozi of Real Life Church.
In this article, I will not dwell on how D9 works since I have no intention of being their salesman. However, I want to share with you the reader warning signs of an Investment Fraud. I hope by the time you’re done reading, you’ll be in a better position to tell whether D9 is a fraud or not.
Investment frauds are typified by all or some of the following characteristics;
- The guarantee of consistently good returns. Business investments are no fairy tale. A business opportunity may offer you wild returns in one year and total losses in another. NO legitimate business in the world will always guarantee you consistently good returns. Even drug dealers make losses occasionally when their consignments are tracked down and confiscated by the authorities.
- Unclear investment products or services. If you cannot point a finger at something straight and obvious that generates revenue for the business, just know there is a problem. I recall TelexFree that used to promise people money for simply logging in daily and placing adverts into a web system. The company apparently claimed it made money through the sale of calling cards. Today, the scam founders are facing litigation in the USA as millions bleed as a result of their lost savings.
- Unclear company information. A legitimate business usually is very straight up with information pertaining to its history, track record, business operations, tax filings among others. A decent amount of this information tends to be easily accessible on the company website. In the event that you cant readily get such information, step back and think twice.
- Pushy sales brokers. Anytime you are confronted by overly aggressive sales brokers who want you to make a decision instantly, let your sixth sense kick in. Why should you not be given an opportunity to go back home, consult or even think through the proposition?
- Unexpected phone calls or messages. You might all of a sudden be contacted by a long lost colleague who then urges you to meet up in order to discuss some hot business opportunity. Think twice. I once was sent a message by a young man I had interacted with over 6 months earlier. He insisted that I meet him in a certain office and I duly obliged. Upon reaching, I found a herd of people seated being taken through the motions of how to join a certain pyramid scheme whose name I have forgotten. My stay didn’t last more than ten minutes. Ever since then, I never respond to his calls and messages when he gets in touch.
- The promise of high returns in a short period. An investment offer that promises you crazy returns (usually many times above market rates) needs checking. In most cases, compare this offer of returns with the alleged product or service on offer.
- Low Risk, No Risk or Guarantee. Once you are presented with an opportunity that has any of these three hallmarks, it helps to open your eyes wider. Like I said earlier, there is NEVER a 100% guarantee in any legitimate business.
- The temptation of being part of an exclusive investment organisation. Whenever there is a promise of exclusivity, chances of a fraud scheme being engineered are rife. Even when you may make some money as an early adopter, that will not negate the fact that you are part of a scam whose pack of cards will fall sooner than later.
- The investment offer is based overseas. Most scams are usually offered from remote locations. There are countries that are notorious for hosting these scams and Brazil is one of those. They carefully craft their operations to ensure that they evade jurisdictions with serious financial systems to detect fraud. This also allows the founders to eventually walk away scotfree when the pack of cards crumbles (notice I used the term when and not if).
- They approach you in form of seminars and sales people representing schemes. Have you been called for a seminar or presentation in a hotel or large office of sorts? Have you been flooded by a team of marketers who promise you only the very best if you part with your hard earned or sometimes borrowed money? Offering guarantees? Insisting that you sign up before the seminar ends? Well …..
- They prey on your membership of a certain group. Winning trust is one of the key tactics of fraud promoters. This is the reason they strategically target groupings of people like church membership, sports fraternities, professional bodies etc. It is no wonder that people like Pastor Mark Kigozi are thriving with this D9 arrangement. Having a large fellowship of believers who outrightly believe in every word he mentions (fully convinced that it is the Holy Spirit at work), renders the success rate in such a congregation much higher.
- Diverting attention. When an investment scheme focuses more on gifts that success offers eg promoting a high life, good cars, opulence among others then only part of the story is being told.
I firmly believe that if your investment opportunity checks out with at least three of the issues I have shared here, then it’s time to rethink. Seriously!!!
I know poverty or the lack of money is making many of us gullible to the nearest offer of hope to become the next millionaire but do not forget that true wealth comes from working diligently.
King Solomon had the following to say about wealth:
Proverbs 12:11– “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.”
We all have land that God has given us. That land comes in the form of skills, talent among others. He wants us to utilise it as opposed to running around like headless chicken looking for the next big thing that someone else is introducing.
Proverbs 21:5- “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”
A diligent person is one who works hard, is careful and thorough. Surely, does this scripture rhyme with those get rich quick 100% guarantee schemes? Youmay not be a Bible believer but one thing you cannot deny is the wisdom its scripture offers us.
Finally, DO NOT BE DECEIVED by spiritual leaders, apparently wealthy admirers of yours, family members or anyone that tries to get you into subscribing to something that has all the hallmarks of a scam. Keep that money of yours. It could be put to better use.
I hope I’ve saved someone.
James Wire is a Small Business and Technology Consultant based in Kampala, Uganda.
Follow @wirejames on Twitter
Email lunghabo [at] gmail [dot] com
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