In March of 2020 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 against OTA and its principals.  As a part of the settlement, the defendants are paid millions of dollars to the FTC who refunded  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 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.

Now Universal Guardian Acceptance, LLC (UGA) and Universal Account Servicing, LLC (UAS) the funder and servicer of the payments plans used by victims of this scam to pay for training from OTA has settled claims brought against it by the FTC.  Under the terms of the settlement, UGA is required to forgive any debts incurred by the victims of OTA’s scam to pay for OTA’s faulty trading program.  Victims of the scam who financed their payments to OTA through UGA  will be receiving notices of the offer of debt forgiveness shortly and will have 45 days to request debt forgiveness.

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 was refunded to victims of their scam in August of 2021 by the FTC.

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