You may have heard the pitch on television, or received an e-mail or letter promoting a seminar or conference that promises to reveal the latest "insider secrets" for making lots of money fast. While there are legitimate seminar promoters, there are also seminar hucksters whose only goal is to take your money.
Fraudulent seminar promoters claim that they will give you valuable information about how to invest successfully or operate a profitable business. Their success stories and testimonials seem to show that anyone who attends the seminar can make a substantial amount of money from whatever investment and business program they are selling. Participants in these seminars are usually asked to pay thousands of dollars for training and materials. Consumers who invest in these opportunities frequently find that the pay-off is not as promised, and they can not recoup the money they spent.
The Better Business Bureau warns consumers to be cautious if the seminar's promotional materials or sales pitches make the following claims:
- You can earn a lot of money, no experience or training necessary.
- The program or business opportunity is offered for a short time only.
- The deal is a "sure thing" that will deliver security for years to come.
- You will reap financial rewards by working part-time or from home.
- You will be coached each step of the way to success.
- The program worked for other participants - even the organizers.
To avoid becoming a victim of fraudulent seminar pitches, the BBB, along with the Federal Trade Commission, offer the following advice:
- Take your time. Do not rush into buying anything at a seminar. Avoid high-pressure sales pitches that require you to buy now or risk losing out on the opportunity.
- Check out the company in which you are considering investing. Contact the BBB for a reliability report on the company.
- Before spending your money, consult with business people and experts in the field.
- Be cautious about purchasing from seminar representatives who are reluctant to answer questions, or who give evasive answers to your questions. Remember that legitimate business people are more than willing to give you information about their sales or investment opportunities.
- Inquire about how much money is required to invest in the opportunity. Keep in mind that you may never recoup the money you give to an unscrupulous seminar operation, despite the operator's stated refund policies. Taking precautions before you invest is a more effective way to safeguard your money than trying to get a refund after the investment has been made.
Last Reviewed June 2002