Caution is the watchword - Don't believe every ad you read


Montréal – The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) reminds the public to exercise caution regarding investment opportunities advertised in the media.

“Investors should be wary of classified ads for investment opportunities or financial assistance,” said Anne-Marie Poitras, Superintendent, Client Services and Compensation at the AMF. “Investors shouldn’t make assumptions about the quality of investment products based on the media they are advertised in, or the way they are presented, since ads are sometimes placed by persons or firms that aren’t authorized to buy or sell investment products,” she added.

Some ads mention financial assistance for persons with pension plans. Pay careful attention here. If you are asked to transfer funds from your pension plan to another account, or asked for personal information like account numbers and personal IDs, be wary.

Example of a scam

After he saw an ad in a local newspaper, John, a recent retiree, contacted the “Custom Financing Centre,” a firm advertising financial assistance for people with investments in pension and other registered savings plans. They told him that he could transfer money from his pension fund to a discount broker, mentioning that transactions were handled quickly and no one was ever turned down. The firm helped John transfer his account to a discount broker, then asked him for the PIN tied to his brokerage account.

The scheme they used was simple:

  • Securities were bought and sold in John’s account without consulting him;
  • John was told that while the value of his portfolio would fluctuate over time, he would earn a certain return;
  • John received monthly account statements;
  • At first, he even received a cash amount;
  • But then came the swindle—he received nothing more, and his investments are no longer worth anything.

Ms. Poitras pointed out that “a number of con artists specialize in stealing confidential information, and they’ll resort to tricks to get you to reveal it.”

Avoid being scammed—some advice

Ms. Poitras listed these tips for investors:

  • Make sure you do business with a representative and firm registered with the AMF;
  • Never assume that you are being told the truth;
  • Be careful if you’re asked for personal information, and never give out passwords or access codes;
  • Be cautious when someone offers you financial assistance that seems too good to refuse.

For more information, read the AMF brochure “Watch out for securities fraud.” It will help you recognize various types of illegal tactics and has tips to keep you on guard against scammers.

The AMF also offers seven other educational brochures on saving and investing to guide you through the complex world of financial products. You can find them in the consumer section of the AMF website by clicking “Be a wise consumer,” or phone the AMF Information Centre at 1-877-525-0337.

The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) is the regulatory and oversight body for Québec’s financial sector.

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Media only:
Frédéric Alberro (514) 940-2176

Information Centre: (877) 525-0337