It might seem that the Great Recession, which hit Michigan harder than almost any other state, would have put at least a dent in the business of unscrupulous investment advisers.
That's what Anita Salustro, a consultant on consumer fraud issues for AARP Michigan, figured. She was wrong.
'Free lunch' seminar monitors
AARP Michigan has trained about a dozen monitors who attend free lunch seminars and report information about the seminars to state AARP offices and, ultimately, state financial industry regulators.
One of those monitors, Ray Denison, 87, a retired lobbyist from Port Sanilac on Lake Huron, said he attended a free lunch seminar in December and was repeatedly pressed by a financial planner for personal information. "He was so intense, the only way I could escape was to tell him I wasn't feeling well," Denison said.
AARP advises potential investors to be suspicious of investments that offer high returns and low risk, and one-time-only deals.
And they should be wary of brokers, sales agents and financial planners who refuse to answer questions clearly, ask for bank account numbers or ask that checks be made out to personal bank accounts.
For more information on investment scams, check out these resources. Download the state Attorney General's consumer protection guide for older people. The North American Securities Administrators Association reports the latest news and alerts on senior investment fraud.
Rick Haglund is a freelance writer in Birmingham, Mich.