Consumer Alert: Investors burned by "guaranteed returns" - CBS46 News

Consumer Alert: Investors burned by "guaranteed returns"

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When someone promises you a guaranteed return on your investment, you should be cautious -- even if that message comes from someone you trust.

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Mobile Billboards of America gave investors an offer that was too good to pass up.

"They told investors that they were going to secure advertising from major advertisers to put billboard frames up on the side of trucks," said US Postal Inspector Mike Carroll.

To be exact, investors were told their initial investment would be $25,000 and they would make 14 percent on their investment.

"They took in about $70 million from investors all over the country. Unfortunately, very little of that got back to investors," Carroll said.

The mastermind behind the scam was using the money from new investors to pay old investors.

"The payout gets too big and it collapses and that's what happened here," Carroll said.

The most disturbing part of this con is how they recruited investors. Postal inspectors call it "an affinity scam."

"Basically making someone comfortable with you by telling them they that they are part of something you are a part of," Carroll explained.

In this case, it was church groups. The con artist would get pastors to invest, which would then encourage parishioners to join in. The impact on the lives of victims was devastating.

"I know several of the victims have gone back to work at 70 or 75 years of age to make the money to provide for their families," Carroll said.

A legitimate investment professional must be properly licensed and registered with both state and local agencies. Always call and check credentials before you invest.

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