These frauds will dupe someone.
I was musing recently about how it is rarely the first movers in new technological fields that actually make the money, and we're probably at that kind of stage now in the field of alternative energy.
Putting cash into any of the promising alternative-energy companies now would, I think, be too risky. But is it a good sector for pooled investments such as funds -- and to trust the skills of a professional stock-picker, who can spread your money into opportunities throughout the industry?
I think alternative energy could be a sector to buy through a fund, and I recently came across a firm called BlueHedge Investments, which has announced a new opportunity on its website. Going by its claims, BlueHedge only takes investors' money when there are sustainable projects ready to go and in need of the cash. But if alternative energy is too risky, they also have some funds in gold, silver and platinum, so some of the risk will be offset by using those.
By putting your money in the hands of a group of experienced and well-respected specialists, you could be much more likely to do better than the hit-and-miss affair of trying to guess which startup tiddler is going to hit the big time.
If you agree, go and have a look at the BlueHedge site and check out the video presentation, and then come back here -- and don't forget to click on the 'Invest Now' box while you're there.
What did you think?
So, did you think it was convincing? Did you work out the bottom line before it was revealed?
Sadly, the truth is that there are dozens, possibly hundreds, of similar websites out there making the same kinds of promises, backed by fancy-looking videos.
And unlike BlueHedge, they're genuine fraudsters. Many of them are used to back up 'boiler room' fraud, in which victims are contacted and persuaded to part with their cash for non-existent shares and investment schemes.
And sadly, people fall for these scams every day.
In fact, recent statistics released by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) show that these fraudsters are stepping up their activities. In 2011, the FSA received 5,401 enquiries about boiler room fraud, which is 19% more than in 2010.
A lot of money
But thankfully, the number of people who were actually duped into investing fell by 7%. Still, that is only the victims who have owned up, and with the average amount lost to this kind of scam amounting to around a thumping £20,000, there's still a long way to go.
So beware of websites that plug overseas investments not covered by any financial regulatory body. And if you receive an unsolicited contact from anyone trying to get you to invest, tell the FSA.
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