Of Scams, God, and Good ‘Ol Boys

When a preacher tells you that your treasure should be in heaven, you might want to listen.

But if one of them starts telling you that at least some of your treasure might be found in recently discovered Confederate government bonds, foreign exchange currency schemes, timber contracts, off-shore certificates of deposit or high yield hospital notes, you might just want to check the Securities and Exchange website (www.sec.gov) for investor alerts and bulletins.

Investment fraud seems to attract bogus men of God like a church picnic attracts ants. You may not want them there, but you’ll nearly always find them there, trying to take what’s yours. 

Recent headlines of a local financial advisor pleading guilty to swindling several elderly clients out of their money with a “pre-revolutionary Chinese bond” story was just the latest version of this “God wants to be your financial advisor” ploy. The Houston mega-church pastor also indicted in the scheme maintains his innocence. 

It’s like a movie script formula from a Hollywood movie mill – everybody knows what’s about to happen in the movie. It’s the same story, just different actors. 

“Sister Mary, I was praying this morning and God put you on my heart. There’s a man I know who’s trying to help people just like you. He has an opportunity to buy contracts to cut timber off land at half the going price. Bless God, it’s amazing. He wants people like you to have a chance to make some big money, like all those greedy types in New York. But he really believes in his heart that good people like you should be making that money. But the window of opportunity is closing fast. You have to put up at least $50,000. You can make your check payable to me.”

Oh, come on! No one would fall for a crazy story like that. Would they?

Bank presidents. University presidents. Wealthy businessmen. Doctors. Attorneys. Connected politicians. 

All victims of fraud, perpetrated by individuals they trusted and considered friends. 

And those are just the ones that come to my mind from the frauds and Ponzi schemes of which I have personal knowledge. After all, you don’t work in my business long before people start telling you their horror stories. 

Is someone approaching you with an opportunity of a lifetime? Maybe an eternal lifetime?

Do your research on who is making the offer. Get it in writing. Ask hard questions. Ask other trusted advisors and professionals not involved in the deal. Be wary of things that seem too good to be true. Don’t be rushed. 

You can always do a background check on any investment professional you are considering by using Investor.gov and the SEC Action Lookup – Individuals (SALI) database.

If someone puts his hand on your shoulder, lowers his voice and with stern seriousness looks you in the eye and says, “God wants you to do this…now” with anything concerning your money, don’t walk the aisle. 

Walk away. 

Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information at https://ruston.argentadvisors.com/important-disclosure-information

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