In March I told you about the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suing the investment training company Online Trading Academy (OTA) and its principals for fraud.  In September the FTC settled its claims agains the OTA and its principals.  As a part of the settlement, the defendants are paying millions of dollars to the FTC who will be refunding  the money to victims of the scam.  The Online Trading Academy lured people largely through seminars into purchasing its phony investment trading programs for as much as $50,000.  The 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.

As a part of the settlement OTA also agreed to forgive the loans it made to people who used the loans to purchase training programs from OTA and also agreed to delete the debt from their victims’ credit reports.  Pursuant to the settlement scam victims of OTA who financed their purchase of the bogus training program from OTA  were to receive an email and a letter from OTA providing the details of the debt forgiveness process. According to the FTC, many people who are receiving these letters and emails are throwing them away thinking they are not legitimate and are missing out on an opportunity to be reimbursed for their losses. Also, unfortunately, a mistake was made by OTA and the letter sent to its victims contained the wrong email address for people to use to apply for the debt forgiveness.  The correct email address victims should use in applying for the debt forgiveness is myeducation@tradingacademy.com.  Alternatively you can call 877-755-1650 to apply for the debt forgiveness.  The deadline to apply for debt forgiveness of November 13, 2020 is rapidly approaching so don’t wait if this applies to you.

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.  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.

Millions of dollars recovered by the FTC from Online Trading Academy and its principals through the settlement will be refunded to victims of their scam.  If you were a victim of this scam, go to the “FTC Scam Refunds” tab in the middle of the first page of http://www.scamicide.com for information about what you need to do to claim your refund.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide was recently cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”