The North American Securities Administrators Association and the AARP are inviting senior investors to take part in their “Free Lunch Seminar Monitor program.” Both organizations say the program will give investors a chance to report any unscrupulous promoters of inappropriate investments to security authorities in their state.
According to statistics, 80% of senior investors (age 60 and above) were invited to attend at least one free investment seminar over the last three years. Three out of five elderly investors received six or more invitations to these free seminars.
The free lunch seminar invitations usually indicate that seniors who attend will be fed a free, expensive lunch while they listen to information about how to invest and manage their money during retirement.The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and federal and state securities regulators, however, say that these lunches are actually sales presentations, which consist of 50% “misleading” or “exaggerated” advertising claims and 25% unsuitable investment recommendations.
Last year, the SEC and securities regulators released their joint findings pertaining to “free lunch” seminars, including:
• The lunch seminars, while touted as “educational,” were actually held with the purpose of opening new investor accounts and (eventually) selling investment products.
• 59% of firms that oversaw the free seminars exhibited weak supervisory practices.
“Free Lunch Seminar Monitor Program”
Investors who would like to be part of the Free Lunch Seminar Monitor Program can bring a checklist (see below) to the lunch seminar with questions about the presenters and the products being promoted. The information from these forms will allow state securities regulators to determine whether the promoters and the information they are presenting are in compliance with securities laws and regulations.
The program gives investors an opportunity “fight back” against the promoters of these “free seminars” and gives securities regulators another way to protect seniors from investment fraud.
AARP and NASAA Launch “Free Lunch Seminar Monitor” Program, AARP.org
Become a Free Lunch Seminar Monitor, AARP
“Free Lunch” Investment Seminar Examinations Uncover Widespread Problems, Perils for Older Investors, SEC.gov, September 10, 2007
Related Web Resources:
What to Listen for Checklist, AARP.org (PDF)
“Free Lunch” Investment Seminars-Avoiding the Heartburn of a Hard Sell, FINRA
Investment fraud is a crime. At Shepherd Smith Edwards & Kantas LTD LLP, our investment fraud lawyers are dedicated to protecting senior investors from becoming the victims of investor fraud. Your first consultation with us is free.