Maybe you’ve been watching television shows on “flipping” houses and think you’d be good at it. Or maybe you’ve been reading about stocks and want to try your hand at the market. You might read some books or listen to some podcasts, but there’s something appealing about sitting in a room with actual experts for a day or two, learning from their experience, and becoming an expert yourself, quickly.It’s easy to get drawn in by charismatic presenters, success stories and testimonials. Through the use of commercials, mailers and social media, which often use a celebrity spokesperson to deliver the company’s message, consumers are lured to the “house flipping” seminars with promises of making money with no previous experience necessary. Some programs even promise they will help fund the consumer’s projects. The promises made in promotional materials can be tempting:You’ll earn money fast, regardless of your experienceThis opportunity is a sure thingYou can make significant income working part-time or at homeYou’ll be coached and supported every step of the wayThe program has worked for past participants and even the presenters themselvesThe seminars themselves may not be scams – you’ll go to an actual seminar and learn about the things they promise you’ll learn about. But the promises made about your resulting success and the high-pressure tactics used to get you to buy products or invest in programs are problematic. Consumers throughout the U.S. have filed complaints with BBB, saying they have lost money to the companies who put on the seminars, with little hope of getting any return on their investments.The seminars often are held in hotel banquet rooms with the intial seminar lasting a few hours and including a push to sign up for a weekend course. The weekend course can cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. At the weekend course, consumers tell BBB they are often pressured to purchase continuing educational materials from the business. BBB also has received complaints from consumers who are disappointed the celebrity spokesperson did not attend the event. Celebrities rarely attend the seminars. Instead, the celebrity has members of his or her “team” conduct the seminar.Investment scams were deemed the second riskiest scam in 2017, according to the BBB Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report. Consumers reported a median loss of $2,310 in investment schemes last year. The excitement of a room full of people who believe they are about to make a lot of money can be contagious, but there are things you can do to make sure you don’t get caught up and spend money you’ll regret later:Take your time. Don’t fall for high-pressure sales pitches that say if you don’t buy now you’ll lose out. Any reputable promoter will let you take time to do research and will not pressure you for an immediate decision.Investigate the business you are considering. Do some research and talk to experienced business people and experts outside of the seminar before you invest anything.Be skeptical about success stories and testimonials. Anybody can be paid to say anything.Don’t believe claims that investing/trading strategies are easy or simple. If it was easy to make money, everybody would be rich.Be cautious when seminar representatives are vague or reluctant to answer questions. Legitimate businesspeople are happy to give you specific information about all aspects of the opportunity and their experience.Be mindful of guaranteed returns. There is always risk and there are no guarantees. High returns generally require high risk, so don’t believe any claims promising you lots of easy money.Ask upfront about how much money you need to qualify for the opportunity and ask about the refund policy. Make sure you get all this information in writing. Remember that if the opportunity is a bogus one, you may not ever see your money again regardless of what you’ve been promised.References/For more information:In the U.S.The FTC on Investment and Biz Opp Seminars: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0239-investment-biz-opp-seminarsFTC information on the Business Opportunity Rule: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/bogus-business-opportunitiesThe FTC on Business Opportunity Scams: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0019-business-opportunity-scamsThe SEC on Trading Seminar Fraud: https://www.sec.gov/investor/alerts/tradingseminars.htmThe SEC on Avoiding Fraud: https://www.investor.gov/investing-basics/avoiding-fraudYour State or Region’s Attorney General: http://www.naag.org/current-attorneys-general.phpTo learn more about scams or file a complaint:BBB Scam Tracker: https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/usThe FTC: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0341-file-complaint-ftcIn CanadaOffice of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions: http://www.osfi-bsif.gc.caThe Competition Bureau: http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/fraudThe Competition Bureau on Real Estate Investment Seminars: http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/04069.htmlThe Competition Bureau on Scams: http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/03074.htmlRoyal Canadian Mounted Police: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudesThe Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre: http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htmTo learn more about scams or file a complaint:BBB Scam Tracker: https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/canadaReport an Incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre: http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/reportincident-signalerincident/index-eng.htmBBB St. Louis contributed to this tip.