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Investments that are too good to be true

Ad drive shows would-be investors drawn to tempting opportunities but many also demonstrated a good dose of common sense, scepticism

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Lorna Tan on 30 Apr 2017

The Straits Times

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Investors who recently responded to advertisements enticing them with attractive, guaranteed returns if they co-own a Caribbean resort or invest in a gold scheme have been surprised to find they were part of an anti-scam campaign.

 

The two schemes, touted as opportunities of a lifetime, are part of a "Beware! Investment Scams" programme organised by the financial education programme MoneySense and the Securities Investors Association Singapore (Sias).

 

The innovative campaign from April to July aims to caution consumers to be alert to investment scams. It wants to raise awareness on how these scams typically operate, including how to identify them through red flags, as well as educate the public on resources to refer to before committing to an investment.

 

The SantaQuay Resorts advertisement stated that for as little as $10,000, you can reap guaranteed annual returns of 24 per cent plus get your capital back after two years by investing in a luxury freehold resort in the Caribbean.

 

The other advertisement, for the gold scheme, offered a "golden opportunity" to invest in limited-edition coins so as to "benefit from the price momentum of gold, which has been rising in recent months".

 

The advertisement for the Brilliant Ingots Investments Group dangled annual returns of 24 per cent with a promise that it would buy back the coins at cost, which would guarantee the capital invested.

 

NOT FOOLED

 

Public feedback has been positive and heartening, with some members of the public correctly identifying the red flags of the 'investments' and bringing the MAS' attention to these.

 

'' MONEYSENSE AND THE SECURITIES INVESTORS ASSOCIATION SINGAPORE, on awareness among the public about investment scams.

 

The two advertisements appeared over the past few weeks on various social media platforms and in newspapers, including The Sunday Times.

 

Both schemes offered a 2 per cent to 3.5 per cent commission for every referral of new customers and claimed to be limited offers.

 

Initial figures from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) show that more than 22,000 individuals have visited the SantaQuay Resorts website since April 2, with about 1,100 indicating their interest in the "investment opportunity".

 

Almost 6,000 visitors visited the Brilliant Ingots website from April 16 to 25, with 600 or so indicating their interest in the scheme.

 

If the two schemes had been real scams, these keen investors could potentially have been taken for a ride, adding to the thousands of victims of scams who have filed complaints in recent years.

 

MAS figures indicate that more than 60 per cent of those who visited the websites of the two "investments" were males. Overall, the majority of the visitors were aged 44 and under.

 

MoneySense and Sias said they are encouraged by the response to the campaign. In fact, some members of the public had alerted the authorities to the schemes.

 

"Public feedback has been positive and heartening, with some members of the public correctly identifying the red flags of the 'investments' and bringing the MAS' attention to these", said MoneySense and Sias.

 

"This reflects investors' awareness of potential investment scams. Promoting informed investing is an ongoing effort, and we will continue to explore compelling financial education initiatives to better reach the public," they added.

 

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.