Its dinnertime and the phone rings. It’s Joe Noname with SuchNSuch Investment Company and has he got a deal for you.
Joe wants to be friendly and engage you in a few not-too-personal questions just to break the ice before he gets into his too-good-too-be-true pitch. Stock, oil, Internet, telecommunications, you name it.
Joe tells you about his company’s credentials and how they are “affiliated” with some big New York bank or investment house – a name that everyone knows and trusts. And Joe also wants you to know how experienced he is and he came from a big, well-known brokerage house because this deal was too good to pass up and he wanted everyone to know about it. He has even bought shares in it himself. And pigs can fly !
He carefully mixes truth with unsubstantiated material, which appears to be fact. His company is registered (probably true) and approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (lie, they don’t approve of any company) and is affiliated with AT&T or Bill Gates (a lie, but very hard to check out). He interweaves little lies and big ones so it all sounds credible.
This investment is so good it is underwritten by the big brokerage house Morgan Stanley and guaranteed by MCI or some other big name. Furthermore, we guarantee your investment because you are paid first before any dividends are paid to any other shareholder. This is a “no-risk” investment. The last time our company had one of the high quality investments all the investors made 500% on their money in less than 18 months. Isn’t that great! I wish I had some of the first offering; I’d be rich now. Joe will probably quote you some stock offering like Yahoo or Intel that did make this kind of return or even more, but you can be assured this company had nothing to do with it.
“Mr. Mushroom, don’t miss out on this as there are only a limited number of shares my company is allowing me to offer. How much cash do you have you would like to make 500% on at this time? $5,000. I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll reserve a thousand shares for you and give you the option to pick up another 10,000 shares any time in the next 30 days provided you can wire in the first $5,000 immediately.” Be careful of any offer where they must have the cash now, immediately, before yesterday. Or Joe is going to send you papers via FedX and you must return them immediately. And always kiss your money goodbye before you send it because that is the last time you will ever see it.
Ask for their address. If it is a P.O. box you know it is a scam. Whatever he tells you make sure it is not one of those mailbox businesses. Joe is either in a boiler room or calling you from home. Get his office phone number and home number. Ask him where he got your name.
In a nutshell here is what you want to listen for: The return is illogical (too good), his credentials are uncheckable, the names he drops are almost impossible to verify, it is a “no-risk” deal, they won’t give you time to check them out (FedX) and you really don’t know where they are located.
When Joe Noname calls I am polite and firm and just, very quickly, even before he gets into his pitch, say, “Thanks for the call, Joe, but I’m not interested” and I immediately hang up. Joe prefers this also because now he can go on to the next sucker.
Please, don’t ever send money to a voice on the phone.