Exotic or Off-Shore Foreign Investments. People have lost big sums buying shares in ostrich farms, oil and gas ventures, precious metals, mines, or unregistered foreign investments. Some of these investments are promoted as a way to avoid income tax. Buy only legitimate investments and stick with mainstream investment channels: for example, real international stocks can be purchased through mutual funds. Avoid "adventures" when investing your money. Go ahead, be boring.
Promissory Notes. Promissory notes are investments that offer above-market, fixed returns. While some are legitimate, some are fraudulent and worthless. Watch out for promises of unrealistically high returns.
Fraudulent Bank or Currency Investments. Scammers promise very high returns for investing in fraudulent bank or currency related investments. In the past, a con artist would call this a "prime bank" investment and mention foreign banks that may not exist. More recently, this fraud has been called a "risk-free guaranteed high yield investment" or some similar name, and banks are not mentioned as often.
Advance Fee Stock Purchase Scams. Con artists contact investors and offer an unrealistically high price for a stock or other investment that the investor owns. To ensure the sale the investor is asked to pay a large advance sum of money as a deposit or transaction fee. It's a scam - the purchase does not happen, and the investor loses the advance fee.
Fake Promises of Initial Public Offerings (IPOs). Sometimes investors want to take advantage of an early chance to buy a stock when it is first being offered to the public. Scam artists may try to obtain advance fees in return for the supposed right to buy stock as an early insider. Avoid such offers.
"IRA or IRS Approved" Investments. The promoters claim you can roll over your IRA investment into a supposedly more profitable investment, often in a fancy sounding industry. They may claim the plan has the approval of the IRS or another government agency. This is a clear sign of fraud - avoid all such offers.
Investments in Fraudulent Businesses. Bogus offers may involve work-at-home opportunities, make unrealistic earnings claims, or require big advance fees. Be cautious - many such schemes are frauds.