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Officials warn against investment scams

By Nkoyo Iyamba | Posted - Oct. 20, 2010 at 6:52 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- As people look for ways to stay afloat in the midst of the down economy, experts are warning retirees not to get sucked into investment frauds.

LuElla Day and her husband sold their 17 acres of farmland in 2006. Prices were high, and she gave the money to a friend who said he could invest it.

"One and a quarter million dollars. The million was supposed to go into treasury bonds and the other was to go to pay taxes," she said.

Mrs. Day never saw her money again, and doesn't think she ever will.

Daniel Merriman ripped it off, and is serving time in the Utah State Prison.

Sometimes it starts with a free meal.

"Somebody very smart talks eloquently about the crisis we've been through and about how important it is to save your money, and you think that's great. But what they're really trying to do is get a follow-up appointment with you," Keith Woodwell, securities director with the Utah Department of Commerce, says.

He says no matter what your financial situation, fraudsters will use the same scare tactics to reel you in.

"And that solution is going to be a one-size-fits-all annuity, because that's usually what's being sold at these free lunch seminars," he says.

The Utah Division of Securities has listed the top ten investor scams to look out for.

Seniors who want to know how to avoid such pitfalls can do so at The Senior Expo, Thursday and Friday at the South Towne Exposition Center.

Woodwell says have the state check these people out before you buy into any investment.

E-mail: niyamba@ksl.com

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