Special offers to be taken with a pinch of salt

Obverse of the Series 2006 $20 bill
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Do you receive at least daily loads of emails offering you the secret of how to make vast amounts of money a day for working only four hours a week? Do you get telephone calls from overseas suggesting you invest in some penny stock that is about to make it big? Are you sometimes approached by quite good business friends with the offer of some wonderful moneymaking scheme they have heard about and are gullible enough to try to rope others into?

These are all penalties of being in business and having a web presence. We give the world opportunities to contact us, but we are in business and cannot filter out the chancers except the serial spammers.

Now, I don’t doubt that some of the tales that are woven have some basis in truth. An experienced day trader may make a lot of money in four hours though it won’t be without investing a lot of time in watching the markets even when not dealing. There is a risk of losing of course, but that is just glossed over in the sales patter.

The penny stock offers are known as “boiler-room scams”. I don’t know about boiler-room, but most of these people sound as though they are calling from the bottom of a well or a Chilean mine, no doubt due to roundabout routing of their calls to avoid being traced.

The other week I had occasion to examine an apparent way of saving large amounts of tax. In this case there was an outside chance it could work before the tax authorities leaped on it, but it would have required a very bullish taxpayer to try it and you could bet your bottom dollar that the offshore providers would have disappeared long before the angry taxpayer turned on them.

The truth is that all these “opportunities” pander to the greed of those drawn in. There will always be money and probably quite a lot of it to be paid up front. That is money which most likely will never be seen again.

Take care out there, and remember that if something sounds too good to be true…

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