The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued the investment training company Online Trading Academy (OTA) and its principals for fraud and has obtained a temporary restraining order shutting it down and freezing its assets while the lawsuit proceeds.  The Online Trading Academy lured people largely through seminars into purchasing its phony investment trading programs for as much as $50,000.  According to the FTC, Online Trading Academy scammed victims out of more than 370 million dollars over the last six years.  According to the FTC, OTA told people that it had a patented strategy that would enable people using the strategy to make substantial income trading stocks whether the stock market was “going up, down or sideways.”  OTA also provided false testimonials from people OTA wrongfully misrepresented as successful traders who used its strategy.  Finally, according to the FTC, customers requesting refunds were required to sign contracts preventing them from making negative comments about OTA or reporting them to law enforcement agencies.

TIPS

Never rush into any investment or other opportunity being sold through a seminar until you have carefully investigated the people selling their investment or system as well as the investment or system itself.  Always be a bit skeptical as to testimonials which should also be carefully investigated before being relied upon.  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. https://www.nasaa.org/investor-education/how-to-check-your-broker-or-investment-adviser/ Many investment advisers will not be required to register with the SEC, but are required to register with your individual state securities regulators.  You should also check with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for information about the particular  investment adviser. https://www.finra.org/investors/protect-your-money/ask-and-check

It is also important to remember that you should never  invest in something that you do not completely understand.  This was a mistake that many of Bernie Madoff’s victims made.Annuities are a legitimate investment, but are both quite complicated and not appropriate for everyone which is why you should make sure that you understand all of the details of an annuity before buying or surrendering one.  You also may want to check out the SEC’s investor education website at www.investor.gov.  Scammers can be very convincing and it may sound like there is a great opportunity for someone to make some money, but you must be careful that the person making money is not the scam artist taking yours. Additionally, investing with someone merely because you trust them because you have heard them on the radio or television is dangerous.

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