This week's Web Winners: Investment help

January 13, 2009 By Reid Kanaley

Sophisticated investors were among victims of Bernard L. Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Avoiding financial scams must be even trickier than we thought. These sites might make it easier.

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PONZIS AND PYRAMIDS

Maybe the Securities and Exchange Commission - which is taking heat over its failure for years to take complaints about Madoff more seriously - should have been reading its own definitions. Here are the SEC pages that describe Ponzi and pyramid schemes that masquerade as legitimate investment plans.

Ponzi:

investor.gov/answers/ponzi.htm

Pyramid:

investor.gov/answers/pyramid.htm

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SCHEME AVOIDANCE

Read here on the Money Under Thirty site how to spot and avoid Ponzi, pyramid and other financial scams. Check out an adviser's credentials; don't let your manager serve also as your broker; don't invest in anything you don't understand; and diversify. Sounds simple enough, but who's listening?

go.philly.com/under30

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SAVE EGGS

This site, Save Your Nest Egg, asserts that, with few exceptions, the financial-advice industry, if not a scam, is expensive, and it suggests do-it-yourself investing. It provides a variety of resources and tools for getting started. There are links to Vanguard Inc. and MSN Money pages where questionnaires help you figure out your tolerance for financial risk.

www.saveyournestegg.com/

Here are the Vanguard and MSN Money quiz pages:

go.philly.com/vanguard

go.philly.com/msn

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PERSUASIVE CRIMES

Crimes of Persuasion is a compendium of "schemes, scams and frauds" - credit scams, talent-scout scams, missing-person hoaxes, work-at-home scams, and others - so many, in fact, that it could make you afraid to answer the phone.

www.crimes-of-persuasion.com/

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ANNIEBIRD'S ADVICE

The blogger "Anniebird" says the fine print of some financial advisers' paperwork may disclose their potential conflicts of interest. But a lot of people don't bother to do the reading - and their investments may suffer as a result.

nobrokers.savingadvice.com/

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Reid Kanaley: rkanaley at phillynews.com

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© 2009, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Visit Philadelphia Online, the Inquirer's World Wide Web site, at www.philly.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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