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10 Ways to Avoid Losing Your Retirement to a Scam

OPINION
10 Ways to Avoid Losing Your Retirement to a Scam

anyone can fall prey to a scam but there are ways to guard against becoming a victim


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A news item that surfaced last week was particularly interesting and personal for me. Several years ago, my wife and I invested in a project called "Sanctuary Belize" and, like many of the investors, we were incredibly excited about the prospect of retiring in paradise.

After a time, things just weren't adding up, which prompted my column, "Tarnished Dreams" ( the comments section makes interesting reading ). The company supposedly put controls in place to reverse course, but we exited the project. I wrote "Renewed Hope," with a focus on the improvements and controls that were promised. However, as it turned out, they either were not put in place or failed.

A Slew of Scams

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission last week announced that it had shut the thing down, and highlighted it as one of the largest scams in its history, with damages estimated to exceed $100 million . There appears to be little chance that those who stayed with the project will recover much of their investment.

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently has pointed out problems with companies ranging from Snap to Tesla (Musk seems to be balancing between financial genius and scam artist at the moment).

"Virtual Reality" Was Coined in 1987. While immersive experiences (depending on the definition) have been around for decades, the actual term most people use to describe them is relatively new. The term “virtual reality” was conceived by Jaron Lanier in 1987, during an intense period of research around this form of technology.

Last week, I wrote about, Dan Lyons' new book Lab Rats . While focused mostly on employee abuse at scale, it also covers the scam represented by many unicorn companies, which typically carry valuations of $1 billion or more, unsupported by profit or revenue.

And then there was the whopping $6 billion gold scam that set the entire gold industry on its ear.

The Belize thing was a huge learning experience for me. As an analyst, and an ex-auditor and ex-cop, I once held the false belief that I was immune to scams. One of the things that makes many scams work is that they make you part of the effort to fool yourself. A huge problem is that the folks who get caught up in the scam will attack people who catch on to it almost as if they were religious heretics (which, in a way, we are).

Rather than covering the details of each scam, I'll suggest ways to avoid falling for one, because there are folks trying to trick us out of our money daily. Check out the seven most common scams attacking older folks at the moment. I've gotten calls from folks trying all of them on me, except for the roofing scam, and the approaches are getting ever more sophisticated.

I'm not sure if losing money or the embarrassment of falling for one of these scams is worse. I'll offer my thoughts on how to keep safe and close with my product of the week: the one thing I'm most looking forward to getting this month.

10 Rules to Avoid Losing Your Retirement

  1. One thing you really have to get, no matter how smart you think you are, is that anyone can get scammed. It doesn't matter if you are a kid, grandparent, CEO, cop, or even an ex-auditor. If the scam is packaged well enough, you'll fall for it.

Scientists with NASA can use virtual reality to enable robot arms in space to perform gestures that are being done on earth with an operator.

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