(WMC TV) - I work very closely with U.S. postal inspectors. I'm even related to one. My wife's uncle is a retired postal inspector.
Lately, the scams my inspector sources have been investigating involve investment scams. Ponzi schemes. Promises of something for next to nothing.
Here's a clue: often the words or phrases investment scammers use to pitch their scams give away their scams.
The agents of the federal General Services Administration said these are five terms that give away an investment scam:
* "GUARANTEE." No legitimate investment is ever a guarantee of anything. Every investment has an element of risk.
* "HIGH RETURN." If the return is higher than the percentage return of typical investment plans, it's a ruse. Check with a licensed and credentialed financial advisor.
* "LIMITED OFFER." That's just a trick to pressure you into making a decision right away.
* "AS SAFE AS A CD." Then why isn't it a certificate of deposit? Either it is or it isn't. Get a prospectus that explains the investment.
* "THIS INVESTMENT IS IRA-APPROVED." An IRA (Individual Retirement Account) is an investment, not a regulatory agency. This statement is meaningless.
An investment scam-seller's actions speak even louder than those words. If the salesperson pressures you to borrow from your retirement funds to invest -- if he or she dismisses federal disclosure documents as "unnecessary" -- or if he or she promises immediate profits, it's time to drop that deal.