Question: My mother has a “friend” whose minister is trying to get her to invest in some land deal connected with his church. He is promising to make her lots of money and whenever she asks a question about it, he tells her to trust God and believe that she will “reap the blessings of the Lord for the seed she has sown.” I think this guy is totally full of it, but my mom likes him. What can I do?
Answer: Sounds like it’s time for someone to turn the lights on for your mother.
Unfortunately, too many Americans are susceptible to financial fraud. Just this week, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Foundation released a report that illustrates the problem.
Financial fraud solicitations are everywhere. It’s hard to tell how widespread the problem is because people tend to under-report. Who wants to get ripped off and then admit to the world what an idiot they’ve been? It’s a double whammy most folks are unwilling to stomach.
FINRA has a name for one’s likelihood of falling for a scam. They call it “fraud susceptibility.” And to no one’s surprise, the report found that older Americans are especially vulnerable.
Too many people wouldn’t know a scam if it bit them on the nose. The FINRA report cited a few examples, such as “Nigerian email fraud, lottery scams, penny stock sales, boiler room calls, pyramid schemes and free lunch seminars that turn out to be sales pitches.”
According to the report, “Many Americans lack an understanding of reasonable returns on investments, leaving them vulnerable to fraudulent investment pitches promising unrealistic returns or guarantees of returns.”
Based on your comments, I assume your mom is a novice when it comes to investing in land deals (and perhaps any other kind of investment).
If the minister in question is legit, he should not have any problem either providing details or pointing your mom to the person who can provide the details of why the proposed investment is such a good deal.
Your mom should be able to take projected financial statements (also known as pro forma financials) to her CPA, banker or financial professional for review. Someone that has seen or (better yet) done land deals needs to review and approve this for your mom.
Once you begin asking for specifics and involving others who can offer experienced, professional scrutiny, you may find the minister backs off.
Light has a way of making cockroaches run away.