Honest people sometimes find it difficult to believe that con artists will stoop to any tactic in order to carry off a swindle. While some things may be taken on faith, investments are not among them. Members of religious communities can protect themselves from investment swindles by taking the following common sense precautions:
*Be wary of investments that seem closely tied to a particular religious belief. It's extremely unlikely that a golden investment opportunity would be available only to members of a specific church or faith.
*Be cautious if the promoter of an investment opportunity tries to capitalize on connections or a leadership position within a religious group. Chances are slim that the success or failure of the investment can be linked in any way to the "inside" contacts of the promoter. Always check out any claim of influence within the church that is made by a promoter.
*Be on your guard for a new member of your church who springs up out of nowhere with a "surefire" investment scheme. Some con artists will waste little or no time in easing their way into a religious circle. Find out who you are dealing with and what their background, if any, is within the church.
As you would with any investment offer, be sure to look closely at investments promoted to you by fellow members of the church. Exercise the same caution and skepticism that you would when considering any other investment. Ignore claims that religiously-based investments are unregulated. Virtually all investment opportunities, including church bonds, come under the scope of federal and state securities or commodities laws. Any claim to the contrary by a promoter is a clear indication that you are dealing with someone who is either grossly uninformed or a con artist. Check out the promoter and the investment opportunity before money changes hands. Contact your state securities agency to find out if the promoter and investment are properly registered in your state. If you suspect that you have been approached or taken by a con artist, contact your BBB or report the scam to your state securities agency.