“He woke up at exactly 2.15 am on the hospital bed, surrounded by his weeping wife and two kids. He could spot his best friend Bayo at the entrance of the hospital ward talking to a nurse. He couldn’t remember how he got to the hospital or what the heck was going on. The last thing he remembered was that he was with his friend, Bayo, at a beer parlour drinking red wine”. That’s an excerpt from a story in a national daily about one Mr. Olawale, a successful business man who invested almost all his life’s savings into what he thought was a mega deal but turned out to be a mega scam. He collapsed in a beer parlour when his friend broke the news that the deal was a scam. Mr. Olawale lost a whopping N150 Million naira in one fell swoop to some unidentified business partners in Dubai. By default, men desire a life of prosperity and success and as such we make investment moves to secure our financial future and that of our families. A real man will always be on the lookout for lucrative investment opportunities to stash some cash into. But before you decide to throw in your hard-earn money into any investment, it is of paramount importance you first ascertain the authenticity of the investment scheme. Unfortunately, not everyone can detect a fraudulent investment. Recently, scammers have so much perfected their scam craft that victims get to realise they’ve been scammed, several months later. Every day, newer scam techniques and formats are spawned by unscrupulous scoundrels to rip innocent investors of their hard-earned money. It is important to always be at red alert so as not to fall victim to these fraudsters. Not every business opportunity you see online or offline are real or legit. Some men verify the genuineness of an investment by simply going on a crude aimless search on the internet or by asking some random dudes of their opinion about the program. Unfortunately, most persons are limited in knowledge about investment programs. Therefore, employing this approach is not a foolproof way to establish the genuineness of an investment opportunity. Also, there are no academic institutions to study scam techniques, but I will show you some vital initial signs you should watch out for in any investment opportunity to help you easily figure out if it’s a sham. Therefore, before appending your signature to that business deal or releasing your funds for it, ensure you read this carefully to find out if you’re good to go. Quick and Outrageously High Return On Investment: Please don’t misunderstand me here. I know that there are some genuine investments that you put in a little to get a high profit that is why I had to include the word “Quick”. The scammer knows that when it comes to money, everyone wants to get it quickly. So they use that as a bait to attract their victims and then fully trap them with the promise of a high profit or Return On Investment (ROI). Be careful of any investment that contains traits of “quick profits” and “Very High Returns”. When I mean high returns I mean ridiculous, unbelievable and outrageously high returns, especially when compared to the very little initial investment you are expected to put in. Most scam investment demands little from you with the promise of a quick and ridiculous profit. If it’s possible to make such a profit then it should take some time for your little investment to grow into that, but not in a fast, quick or short term. The idea is to steal little from so many victims and cart with millions of naira in the end. Unless it is a scheme that is backed by the government, be wary of such investments. It might be an open invitation to sorrow. Minor or Zero-Risk Investment: This is easiest tell-tale signal that an investment is a pure scam. Even if you find it extremely difficult to figure out a scam investment, you can’t afford to miss this one. Every good investment comes with a risk. The level of risk for each investment may vary but you can’t completely rule out the risk factor in investments. However, in a scam investment, the scammer lures his victims by telling them that the investment is risk-free or has very little risk involved. They play on the psyche of their victims to pull through this prank, knowing very well that most men become interested in a course when they feel they have nothing to lose. The question you should ask yourself whenever you come across such no-risk investments are; why are they offering such juicy investment package at very little or zero-risk? Who bears the cost of running the investment scheme? Where are they getting the money to pay the investors? The ponzi scheme is a good example of a risk-free scam investment. Here you are guaranteed a high interest rate at the shortest possible time, mostly in a few days, without any risk attached. You can imagine an investment where your initial capital is doubled in less than 48 hours. That’s crazy and it will only take a short while before such investment programs wind up with investors money. Most of these scams are easy to fish out unless you let greed block your sense of reasoning. Paying Incentives to Get Good Reviews: Be careful of investment schemes where the participants are cajoled with pecuniary benefits to give good reviews or testimonies online in order to attract new investors. Scammers crave for cheap publicity and popularity and will go any length to get it. Now don’t get this twisted. I am not talking about referral bonuses here. I understand some companies reward their investors for referring others to join their program and this reward is called a Referral Bonus. This is entirely different from inducing participants to give a program a good review online. I will tell you the difference. In the case of referral bonus, participants on their own volition refer a prospect to the program and it is when the prospect enrols for the program that the referrer gets rewarded by the investment company for bringing in a new investor. If the prospect fails to join the program, the referrer doesn’t get paid. We can see that in genuine multi-level marketing programs. But, in a scam investment, the investors are induced with money to go online and give good reviews about their program. It doesn’t matter if your review brings in new investors, as long as you give the review for others to see; you get a one-time payment for that. Scammers use pecuniary incentives to lure their participants to give “forced reviews” online about an investment program to convince others to join the program. If you still recall, this was the exact technique employed by the popular ponzi scheme MMM, where participants were paid to do videos of themselves testifying of how real and beneficial the program was. You will hardly see anyone do a video testimony on investments such as Treasury Bills or Fixed Deposits because a real investment does not require much promotion. It only offers you the opportunity to invest and make profit if you are so wish. Interrogate your Informant Aggressively: You can also detect a scam investment by questioning your informant. If the informant is a new participant with meagre knowledge of the program, ask him or her to refer you to the source or to some top persons in the program with better knowledge. Then channel your questions to that person. To achieve maximum result with this, note that the type of questions or information you ask for and the mode of your interrogation matters. There’s a way you look directly into the eyes of a cheat and question him that makes him stutter and become uncomfortable. Make it more like a detective-suspect interrogation than a student-teacher kind of questioning. Ask as many vital questions as possible that can help you have a clear understanding of the program before investing. Build up your questions using the 5 “W”s of Questioning; Who? When? Where? Why? What? And you may also include “How?” These are good question builders. Whatever you do, ensure you ask the right questions to clear your doubts before investing a dime into any investment scheme. Check Online for Reviews from Authentic Sources: It’s not enough to check on the internet to verify if an investment program is genuine. This is because some of these scammers pay writer and even bloggers to do positive reviews online about their scam programs. So you may end up seeing the program promotion on several blogs yet that doesn’t authenticate the program. That is why I recommend you check authentic sources to see if at one time or the other they feature or promoted the investment program. When I say authentic sources I mean websites that have over the years built a solid reputation in what they do and are reputable for publishing only verified and genuine news items and information. Examples of such are, Business Day, Daily Trust, Legit.ng, Sun, Success Digest, etc and not just any random blog. If no credible source is saying something positive about the program, then thread carefully or better still, back off! Be Guided by Your Intuition: There’s an inbuilt anti-danger mechanism in every man. Some men do not bother to pay attention to it while some have developed it to advance states. It is called Instinct. It is that subtle feeling that drives us to take action or remain inactive based on an inner peace or uneasiness towards a thing. This feeling is also known as Intuition. For instance, you may want to visit a place but you get this uneasy prompting to remain indoors. Then after a while you hear that there was a robbery at the location you wanted to visit and some persons were killed. So many times by intuition or instinct, we get saved from danger. If after checking every pointer I’ve mentioned you still get an uneasy feeling to proceed with a particular investment program, then be guided by your intuition and withdraw from that program because you may likely lose your money. In conclusion, we can’t stop flying on airplanes because there was a plane crash somewhere. We can’t also stop investing because there are scam investments. We only need to beef up our guards and be more careful. The fact is that, the presence of a fake is a proof that there is a genuine somewhere. How to differentiate the fake from the genuine is our responsibility. As men, we are leaders of our families and there are people that depend on us. So we must strive to build our sense of judgement to be able to courageously make right investment decisions that will benefit not just us but also those within and outside our sphere of influence. If you adhere to the tips given here, it will be difficult to fall prey to fraudulent investment schemes. But if everything else fails, contact your financial advisor to ascertain the genuineness of any investment program before putting your hard-earned money in it. Keep Investing Wisely. Keep Winning!