One-in-four British Columbians are vulnerable to investment fraud: poll

APPROXIMATELY one-in-four British Columbians are vulnerable to investment fraud, according to a recent poll commissioned by the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC).

In February, the BCSC surveyed over 500 British Columbians on their reaction to an investment offer that claimed “guaranteed” returns of 14 to 25 per cent and “no risk.” Although the claim contains several investment fraud warning signs, 26 per cent of respondents said the offer was “worth looking into.” More troubling, 20 per cent of the respondents who would look into the offer said they were interested because they need the money, indicating even greater vulnerability.

“Investors should always be skeptical of anyone offering a risk free investment with an unusually high return, because there’s no such thing,” said Pamela McDonald, Director, Communications and Education, BCSC. “We encourage investors to look carefully at every investment they make, but also to listen to your gut. If something doesn’t make sense, or doesn’t feel right, we encourage you to contact the BCSC.”

The study showed that fraud vulnerability is highest among younger British Columbians, particularly young women. Nearly half of millennial females aged 18 to 34 (47 per cent) said they would look into the fraudulent offer, as did 35 per cent of men in the same age group.

Vulnerability was lowest among older respondents, and this number has decreased over time. Of survey respondents aged 55 and over, only 13 per cent were vulnerable to the offer. That number is down compared to a similar 2012 national online study conducted by the BCSC, which showed 26 per cent of the British Columbians in that age group were vulnerable to investment fraud.

“We’re launching our 2018 Fraud Prevention Month campaign today to help investors recognize fraud and stop scams from spreading. This new survey provides a useful snapshot of how many British Columbians are still vulnerable,” said McDonald. “By being able to recognize and reject investment fraud, you could also be protecting your friends and family.”

The Investment Fraud in B.C. survey was part of an omnibus survey conducted by Innovative Research Group Inc. between February 19 and 23. The online survey interviewed a representative sample of 529 British Columbians. The final sample was weighted to a sample size of 500 to ensure the results are representative by age, gender, and region of the province. For more information on how to protect yourself from investment fraud, visit the Fraud Prevention Month page at InvestRight.org.

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