Investment adviser Dawn Bennett who also hosted a syndicated talk radio show called “Financial Myth Busting” was recently convicted of seventeen counts of fraud related to investment scams she operated that swindled people who invested with her out of millions of dollars. Among the allegations against her were that the investments she sold were merely a Ponzi scam in an unprofitable sports apparel company she owned. One of the more interesting aspects of her case was that federal agents found evidence of her attempts to use hoodoo spells to attempt to silence federal investigators working on her case. Found in a freezer in her home were cow tongues in containers with the initials of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigators. Also found in her home were detailed instructions entitled “Beef Tongue Shut Up Hoodoo Spell” to be used against the investigators. The hoodoo, voodoo-like spells did not work.
Before investing with anyone, you should investigate the person offering to sell you the investment with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Central Registration Depository. This will tell you if the broker is licensed and if there have been disciplinary procedures against him or her. You can also check with your own state’s securities regulation office for similar information. Many investment advisers will not be required to register with the SEC, but are required to register with your individual state’s securities regulators. You can find your state’s agency by going to the website of the North American Securities Administrators Association.
You should also check with FINRA for information about the particular investment adviser. It is also important to remember that you should never invest in something that you do not completely understand. Investing in the sports apparel business unless you are familiar with the business is risky. Additionally, investing with someone merely because you trust them because you have heard them on the radio or television is dangerous. Having the same person advise the investment and control the investment such as was the case with Bennett is a common thread among Ponzi schemers because it enables them to falsify documents to make the investment look profitable. Generally, for additional security it is desirable to have a separate broker-dealer act as custodian for investments chosen by an investment adviser.
Of course, you always should be skeptical of investment advisers that promise large investment returns. In this case, Bennett’s promised return on investments was unreasonably high. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
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