With inflation shooting higher, investment scams are on the rise in NJ
As inflation continues to spike higher, Garden State residents are being warned by the FBI to watch out for a wide array of investment scams floating around.
According to George Crouch, the special agent in charge of the FBI in New Jersey, a disturbing trend has been taking shape since the COVID pandemic began a little more than two years ago.
People are losing a lot of money
He said there were 213 investment scam complaints in 2020, with a loss of about $5 million but “in 2021 we saw that go up to 513 complaints with almost $40 million in loses.”
He said this problem continues to get worse, with prices rising for everything in Jersey, including real estate.
“I think people see that and they look at they look at that as an opportunity to get in and make money,” he said.
Crouch pointed out home prices keep going up and “when people think there’s an opportunity there to make money, you’ve got criminals who understand that as well, and they look at it as an opportunity to separate you from your hard-earned money.”
He noted these scams are playing out in many ways.
If you didn't ask for it, be suspicious
“You could be looking at those unsolicited emails, glossies that you’re getting in the mail, really slick kind of advertising,” he said.
He said scammers are using all sorts of methods “even the things that are advertised on radio and television, people don’t realize that just because it’s advertised, the media isn’t doing due diligence to see if those investment opportunities are legitimate or not.”
He said to lessen the chance of getting duped “don’t invest in anything that you don’t understand, if it’s too complicated and you don’t understand what’s going on, it’s probably a signal to you that you shouldn’t invest.”
“When you get those unsolicited offers, hey a special investment only for you, and it’s not something that you asked for, be wary of that,” he cautioned.
Get it in writing and take your time
He suggested when you do decide to make an investment in something, get the details in writing so it’s clear what your investment involves.
Crouch said another important thing to keep in mind is don’t act impulsively.
“Don’t be quick to jump into something, especially when it says this is a one-time offer, limited opportunity, get in now and that sort of thing.”
He pointed out if anyone makes wild promises of a great return with no risk, be wary.
No such thing as a sure bet
“Investing is involving some level of risk, anybody who’s telling you, hey they guarantee you a return, you won’t lose money, those are those red flags,” he said.
Crouch said he has actually told his own mother to do some research before investing in proposals that may look good, and seek out advice from trusted friends and family members.
He added, if somebody tells you “they’re going to put you on Easy Street really quickly without any risk, be careful of that because you might end up on Skid Row.”
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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