For Release: February 26, 2002
CFTC WARNS THE PUBLIC ABOUT
INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES PROMISING
LARGE PROFITS AND LITTLE RISK,
EVEN WHEN OFFERED BY FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today issued a Consumer Advisory warning the public to use caution before investing in a commodity pool that makes extravagant claims, even when the investment opportunity is offered by a friend or relative or someone else they know. In the CFTC's experience, the fact that you know the person offering an investment opportunity is not always a guarantee of reliability, particularly when the person guarantees profits with little risk. The CFTC has brought numerous actions against persons making such fraudulent offers.
Commodity pool operators are persons or entities who raise funds and "pool" them together to trade commodity futures and options. Unregistered pool operators often use word of mouth or e-mail among friends and relatives, religious or ethnic affiliations, community or social organizations, as well as other networks of acquaintances, to convince members of the public that they can make money quickly by investing in commodity pools. In many cases, however, the investment schemes turn out to be fraudulent, and investors lose their entire investment, sometimes as a result of outright theft.
CFTC Chairman James E. Newsome commented,
"While the CFTC is doing everything it can to take enforcement action against unlawful commodity pool operators, we also want to help members of the public protect themselves against such fraud. Today's Advisory sends a clear message: before investing in something that sounds to good to be true, you should check it out, even if the investment is offered by someone you know."
One Fraudulent Operator Preyed on Members of His Cancer Support Group
Investors lose millions of dollars every year in phony commodity pools, including
fictitious "hedge funds" that trade commodity futures and options. In the
last three years, the CFTC has filed 39 actions throughout the United States involving
fraudulent activity connected with commodity pools. Investors in those pools lost over
$110 million in the aggregate. In most of those cases, the pool operators solicited
investments from friends or acquaintances, exploiting their personal relationships to
gain the trust and confidence of investors. In the CFTC's experience, the
promotional activities of these pool operators often promise quick riches — such
as the ability to double or triple the investor's initial investment in months
— with low risk. In one instance, the CFTC even discovered that a person who was
operating a commodity pool fraudulently had solicited investments from members of his
cancer support group.
The CFTC urges investors to be skeptical when told that someone's services can earn them large profits with minimal risk — even when the person recommending the trading services is a friend or relative.
Consumers are advised to watch for the warning signs listed below and to take precautions before trading futures or options with a friend or anyone else, or giving someone funds to invest in a commodity pool:
To see a copy of the Consumer Advisory, go to the following Internet web address: http://www.cftc.gov/enf/enfadvisory-pool.pdf. A list of the 39 commodity pool fraud cases filed by the Commission since 1998, with descriptive text, is available upon request from the Office of Public Affairs (202) 418-5080 and is also available on the CFTC's website.
[Note to editors: The CFTC has also published five other Consumer Alerts, which can be found at http://www.cftc.gov/cftc/cftccustomer.htm - advisory.]
Deputy Director, CFTC Division of Enforcement
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