<< All News Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Bismarck, ND - In the wake of widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, the North Dakota Securities Department today warned investors to beware of opportunistic investment scams.

Financial predators always try to find ways to exploit tragic headlines to cash in on unsuspecting investors, said Securities Commissioner Karen Tyler.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, investors should be patient and cautious when making decisions about their investments or finances, Tyler said, noting that cold-calling telephone salespeople, advertisements, or Internet postings that tout investment pools or bonds to help hurricane victims, or supposed water-removal or purification technologies and electricity-generating devices should be a red flag for investors.

Tyler also urged investors to watch out for oil-and-gas scams, given the impact on oil prices following Katrina's destructive path through Gulf of Mexico oil fields and refineries.

Recalling that many con artists exploited fears associated with the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Year 2000 computer bug to promote investments in precious metals, emergency preparedness scams and non-existent technology companies, Tyler urged investors to:

  • Hang up on aggressive cold callers promoting hurricane-related or oil-and-gas investments, and ignore unsolicited e-mail or Internet messages discussing small companies with new hurricane-related technologies or products;
  • Request written information that fully explains the investment.
  • Use common sense. Pie-in-the-sky promises often signal investment fraud.
  • Remember high returns and low risk are an impossible combination.
  • Contact your state securities regulator to check that both the seller and investment are licensed and registered. If not, they may be operating illegally. To contact your state securities regulator visit www.ndsecurities.com or call 1-800-297-5124.
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