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Maui Event Brings Awareness to Investment Fraud

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AARP banner, file photo by Wendy Osher.

AARP banner, file photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

More than 200 people have already registered for an Investment Fraud workshop co-sponsored by the AARP in Kahului on Wednesday, March 13.

The event is designed to help residents recognize the persuasive tricks of the trade used by investment con-artists.


The Outsmarting Investment Fraud event takes place at 5 p.m. on March 13 at the Café O’Lei Restaurant at The Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course.

“Many of Hawaii’s older residents are vulnerable to financial fraud involving coercion, intimidation, and outright deceit,” said AARP Hawaii State President Gerry Silva. “But we can learn to protect ourselves by recognizing the most common persuasive tactics con artists use.”

Maui residents can learn how to recognize the tricks of trade investment fraudsters including: Common tactics used by con artists skilled in persuasion; simple steps you can take to protect yourself; how to verify if investment professionals are legitimate; and what to do if you suspect investment fraud.


The event is free, but registration is required by calling toll-free 1-877-926-8300 or going online to:

In addition fraud experts at FINRA Foundation, US Securities and Exchange Commission, BBB, and the Office of the Securities Commissioner are partnering with AARP to present the event.

A list of common tactics used by fraud artists was released by event organizers. The list includes the following:

  • The “Phantom Riches” Tactic – dangling the prospect of wealth, enticing you with something you want but can’t have. “These gas wells are guaranteed to produce $6,800 a month in income.”
  • The “Source Credibility” Tactic – trying to build credibility by claiming to be with a reputable firm, or to have a special credential or experience. “Believe me, as a senior vice president of XYZ Firm, I would never sell an investment that doesn’t produce.”
  • The “Social Consensus” Tactic – leading you to believe that other savvy investors have already invested. “This is how ___ got his start. I know it’s a lot of money, but I’m in—and so is my mom and half of her church—and it’s worth every dime.”
  • The “Reciprocity” Tactic – offering to do a small favor for you in return for a big favor. “I’ll give you a break on my commission if you buy now – half off.”
  • The “Scarcity” Tactic – creating a false sense of urgency by claiming limited supply. “There are only two units left, so I’d sign today if I were you.”

On a related note, the Federal Trade Commission has just come out with its 2012 Consumer Sentinel Network Databook – showing Hawaii 22nd in the country with nearly 6,000 fraud complaints last year. Since fraud tends to be an under-reported crime, the number of incidents is believed to be higher than the numbers released.

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