Investments in commodities and precious metals can be made indirectly through stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, or derivatives or people can directly buy or sell the commodity or precious metal itself. Commodities may include crude oil, coal, sugar, coffee beans, wheat and other goods. Precious metals are gold, silver or platinum. Interest in precious metals has increased in recent years as the price of gold and silver has reached all-time highs. These commodities and gold are bought by investors primarily to hedge against inflation, economic uncertainty, and foreign exchange risk, in the belief that these metals, particularly gold, are repositories of absolute value, whereas paper currencies and securities dominated in such currencies have relative value and are vulnerable to loss. The high value of gold and commodities lead to easy money for scammers. It attracts more vigorously of fraudulent activity. There are many types of common tricks that are actually uncommon to ordinary people.
• Cash for gold – With the rise in the value of gold due to the financial crisis, there has been a surge in companies that will buy personal gold in exchange for cash, or sell investments in gold bullion and coins. Several of these have prolific marketing plans and high value spokesmen, such as prior vice presidents. Many of these companies are under investigation for a variety of securities fraud claims, as well as laundering money for terrorist organizations. Also given that ownership is often not verified, many companies are considered to be receiving stolen property, and multiple laws are under consideration on methods to curtail this.
• High-yield investment programs – HYIPs are usually just pyramid schemes dressed up with no real value underneath. Using gold in their prospectus makes them seem more solid and trustworthy.
• Advance fee fraud – Various emails circulate on the Internet for buyers or sellers of up to 10,000 metric tons of gold. This is more gold than the US Federal Reserve owns. Often naive middlemen are drafted in as hopeful brokers, and usually mention mythical terms like ‘Swiss Procedure’ or ‘FCO’ (Full Corporate Offer). The end-game of these scams is unknown, but they probably just attempt to extract a small ‘validation’ sum out of the innocent buyer/seller from their hope of getting the big deal.
• Gold dust sellers – This scam persuades an investor there is real gold with a trial quantity, then eventually delivers brass filings or similar.
• Counterfeit gold coins.
• Shares in fraudulent mining companies with no gold reserves, or potential of finding gold.
• Gold Party Scam– Gold parties are typically held in people’s homes, at places of worship, and at schools. The hook used to lure you in is the promise of cash for your unwanted gold jewelry, coins, and other items. The buyer tests your gold and pays you cash on the spot (based on the gold’s purity and weight). Sounds like a good deal, right? WRONG!
New report shows an increase in investment fraud scheme. If someone asks you to engage in big investments and big payment up-front and you are unsure of their identity, be very cautious. Be extra careful to those people promising you a 20-25% result. More often than not most promising deals are created just to attract potential victims.