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SALT LAKE CITY — For $1,000 you could become a multimillionaire. That's the promise of an old investment scheme that just won't die.
Many people promote the Iraq dinar as an investment with minimal risk and huge yield. But don't believe it. Real financial experts warn if you spend your U.S. dollars on dinars, you'll never see your money again.
John Maskrid describes his ranch in Kane County as 327 acres of splendor. It's on the market, and John says many prospective buyers have scoped out his property. That includes at least three people who've told him they're about to come into serious money.
"Come to find out, they had Iraqi dinars as currency," Maskrid said.
The buyers all tell John they paid a little over $1,000 for a million dinar, and they're expecting the dinar to hit the world market soon and skyrocket in value.
"They all firmly believe they'll be multimillionaires any day now," he said.
The fall of Saddam Hussein's regime brought about the latest Iraqi dinar. From the start, a single note has been worth less than a tenth of a U.S. penny, except, apparently, when it comes to duping Americans out of their American currency.
Jay Adkisson, a financial attorney and contributor to Forbes magazine, said, "Once somebody has been scammed and they bought into the scam, it takes dynamite to convince them otherwise."
Once somebody has been scammed and they bought into the scam, it takes dynamite to convince them otherwise.
–Jay Atkisson, Forbes Magazine
He notes a proliferation of websites and social media created by scam artists pushing the dinar as an amazing investment opportunity. They tout a thousand-percent-plus return just as soon as the Iraqi Central Bank revalues the currency by resetting its exchange rate to a more favorable one. Those sites are chock full of speculation that day will come any time now.
"There's no realistic possibility of the revaluation of the dinar anytime soon," Adkisson said. "And anytime soon is within the next 10 years."
He said you might as well buy bags of sand. They'll increase in value more quickly than the dinar.
But that hasn't stopped scammers. Calling themselves dinar experts with inside information, they predict dates for the dinar's revaluation. Those predictions never pan out.
"They tell them next week, tomorrow, next week. I've been hearing this for months now," Maskrid said.
This scam comes in three parts: the hyped returns that play on an investor's greed, the deceptive practices of Iraqi Dinar dealers, and the fundamental misunderstanding of international finance.
Adkisson has heard it for years.
"They start coming up with all sorts of crazy theories that the investment is real, that the U.S. government is blocking them from getting their money," he explained.
The sale of Iraqi dinar is not illegal. In fact, the speculation on the currency has created a multi-million dollar industry, even though as an investment the dinar is really nothing more than a collectible.
One of the big dealers is Las Vegas-based Dinartrade.com. The owner told the Reuters news agency recently he has nearly 900,000 customers in the U.S. He described most of his customers as mom-and-pop investors.
That's what has John Maskrid worried.
"(They) have spent their savings, invested their retirement money. They are just hard working, common folks. These are good people. I feel for them. I feel bad that I'm even doing this interview. If my gut feeling pans out, these people are going to be told that they got duped," Maskrid said.