Smart Woman: Financial Serial Killers

Jan 2011 // WJCL | Fox28 | The Coastal Source

With financial fraud on the rise, it’s more important than ever to make sure the money you do have is safe. A financial fraud attorney who won the biggest settlement in U.S. history tells us how not to become a victim. Photographer, artist and author Alexandra Penney lived the good life.

“I’m very careful and I saved since the time I was 16.”

Not careful enough: her entire life savings wound up in the hands of ponzi scheme mastermind Bernie Madoff.

“The luxury that was most important that I didn’t realize was a luxury was the peace of mind that you get from having some sort of financial cushion, and I don’t have that.”

Madoff may be the scam poster-child, but financial fraud attorney Tom Ajamie says he’s just one of thousands of financial serial killers.

“I’d say the vast majority of these financial serial killers aren’t taking millions, they’re taking money from just average people.”

The nation’s largest regulatory firm says cases of investment fraud are up 43-percent over the past year. the FBI reports corporate fraud cases and ponzi schemes are up by 111-percent and securities frauds have grown by more than 200-percent. how do you protect yourself? Tom says don’t make investment decisions based on trust.

“Literally thousands of people come to us saying I cannot believe this happened to me, I trusted this person.”

Do your homework. You can look up your financial advisor’s track record at finra-dot-org.

“You might be surprised to find out they’re not even licensed to be doing this, number two, if they have the license you can check if they’ve had complaints or other lawsuits.”

Make sure the company that’s managing your money is independently audited. finally — the person giving you financial advice shouldn’t touch your money.

“Often people are writing checks out to the person giving the advice, in that person’s name, you never want to do that.”

Alexandra learned the hard way. She’s rebuilding her life and bank account one picture at a time. “Don’t go pity poor me, be a fighter, it’s a lot more fun.”

Here’s a surprising fact…after studying the schemes of hundreds of convicted fraudsters, Tom Ajamie found they had one thing in common: they often bypassed the woman and asked to only deal with the man if they were working with a couple. Tom says that’s because they believed the man was easier to manipulate.

Smart Woman:  Financial Serial Killers