Maybe people are dying earlier these days, but everyone seems to be having “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunities pitched at them every few months.
From your nephew at Christmas trying to get you into cryptocurrencies, or that guy at work raving about a hot new stock, or the woman next door telling you about being her own boss in a multi-level marketing scheme, it seems that everyone is promising you’ll get rich quick if only you give them your wallet.
Something ingrained in us as humans makes us want to be rich with little or no effort. Whether it is winning the lottery, or tripping over a gold nugget, the promise of instant riches holds a very powerful allure. We seem to turn our brains off, and for this reason, people who think they will get rich quickly are the perfect target for scammers. Of course, there are real opportunities out there, but these are hard to find.
But how can you tell the difference? Below are a few good questions to ask yourself when you stumble across a potential scam.
Who’s telling you, and what’s in it for them?
This is one of the most important questions. Be skeptical. Anyone saying you can get rich quick but isn’t rich themselves should be treated with caution. Do they get a fee for signing you up? Will they benefit if you buy their crypto/stock/shares? If they’re not impartial about the opportunity, you should be particularly careful. If they’re telling you, they’re selling you.
How are they describing the opportunity?
If anyone ever uses the words “risk-free”, just change the topic. Everything in life has risks. There are no exceptions. Words like “guaranteed” are equally suspect.
Are the returns reasonable?
Australian banks currently advertise interest rates of 0.10%. For example, if you deposit $10,000, in a year’s time you will have $10,010. Alternatively, if you go to the high-risk casino of the cryptocurrency market, you can deposit into a scheme advertising interest rates of 94,806.50%.
For example, if you deposit $10,000, in a year’s time you will have $0 because the scheme will have collapsed and this guy below will have stolen all your money.
“It’s fiiiiiiiiiiiiine” – This guy
What recourse do you have?
You should always buy into an investment assuming it will go to 0. That way, you’ll be prepared for the inevitable occasions when it does happen, and you’ll never invest more than you can afford to lose.
But before you invest, think about what would happen in that scenario. What are your options? If you’ve ordered a hundred pairs of yoga pants from your MLM-minded neighbour and discover you can’t sell them, what’s the return policy? If the company whose stock you just bought was shut down tomorrow, how much could a liquidator get back for you? Are you protected by a contract? Is the contract enforceable? If you sign a contract with a stranger in Russia and they’ve just made off with your money, that contract will make excellent toilet paper the next time Woollies runs out.
Is it a Ponzi/pyramid scheme?
Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes are very similar in that they pay out interest, or returns, based on new buyers coming in, instead of actual profits from the production of real goods or services. Take a step back and think about the business model. If you had to hold onto those shares, or that cryptocurrency, or a hundred pairs of yoga pants, for the rest of your life, and nobody ever bought that investment from you, would you still go ahead? If it looks like the whole thing would collapse without new money coming in, you might be looking at a Ponzi scheme.
Speaking of takeaway, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. If anyone tells you that you’re going to get rich quick with no effort whatsoever, thanks to their exciting new scheme, you should either look at it a little closer or, better still, avert your gaze entirely.
If you’re thinking about an investment opportunity, call us today on 9664 4700. We can walk you through the documentation, the risks involved, and advise you on your options if things don’t work out as planned.