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Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are attracting investors interested in new trends in technology investing. Regulation of ICOs is evolving and complex. With considerably fewer investor protections than in traditional securities markets, investors considering participating in an ICO investment should be aware of the growing potential for fraud and manipulation these offerings present. Investors need to approach ICOs with extreme caution. ICOs are very risky and are not suitable for many investors. You could lose all of your investment. Before parting with your hard-earned money, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Click the title to download a copy to help you better understand these investments and their risks.

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Before you jump into the crypto craze, be mindful that cryptocurrencies and related financial products may be nothing more than public facing fronts for Ponzi schemes and other frauds. And because these products do not fall neatly into the existing federal/state regulatory framework, it may be easier for the promoters of these products to fleece you. Investing in cryptocurrencies and related financial products accordingly should be seen for what it is: extremely risky speculation with a high risk of loss. Click the title to download a copy of this investor alert to help you better understand these investments and their risks.

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Unicorns are not just the stuff of fairy tales; some financial unicorns exist today. But investing in unicorns is speculative, and generally is unavailable to retail investors. Retail investors looking to bet on a unicorn may be able to do so indirectly through a mutual fund, exchange-traded fund or business development company. But beware; investing in unicorns is risky. This investment may bite. Click the title to download a copy of this investor alert to help you better understand these investments and their risks.

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A binary option is a type of all-or-nothing investment contract, similar to placing a bet. Like the flip of a coin, there are only two possible outcomes: heads you win or tails you lose. This advisory discusses common investor complaints and offers common tactics and warning signs of schemes related to binary options, including: unsolicited investment offers; high-pressure sales tactics; personal information requests; and a lack of information about the offering firm or its management. Download a copy of this investor alert to help you better understand to learn how to avoid becoming victimized.

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In an effort to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors, he U.S. Congress in the early 1990s authorized the creation of a new type of immigrant visa known as the Employment-Based, Fifth Preference (EB-5) visa. Under the EB - 5 program, foreign investors who meet certain eligibility requirements can apply for conditional resident alien status(i.e., a conditional “green card”) in the United States by investing in the American economy.Unfortunately, fraudsters have preyed upon unsuspecting EB - 5 investors, through the use of illegitimate businesses. Download a copy of this investor alert to help you better understand to learn how to avoid becoming victimized a second time.

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Victims of investment scams are wise to use caution if approached by companies promising to help them recover their lost investment funds and bring the perpetrators to “justice.” A third-party asset recovery company is a company that charges a fee to assist individuals in recovering money lost in scams. The company claims to gather information on the scam and assist the individual in recovering lost investment dollars. Many of these self-proclaimed recovery companies are not law firms, although they may advertise that they can provide legal assistance. Typically, the targeted investors have lost thousands of dollars, perhaps even their entire life’s savings, to fraudulent investment schemes. Download a copy of this two-page investor alert to help you better understand to learn how to avoid becoming victimized a second time.

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At first glance, marijuana, binary options, and digital currency appear to have no real connection to one another. But what they all have in common is their recent emergence as three investments that both sellers and buyers hope will become the “next big thing.” Before you consider investing, download a copy of this two-page investor alert to help you make sure you understand what these products are, their benefits, and their risks.

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A pension is a type of retirement plan, usually tax-exempt, in which an employee makes contributions toward a pool of funds set aside for an employee’s future benefit. The pool of funds is invested on the employee’s behalf, allowing the employee to receive benefits upon retirement. Are you earning a pension from your employer and need cash fast? Are you an investor looking for new ways to grow your investment dollars? If you answer yes to either question, you may be the target of a new wrinkle on an old type of scam. Download a copy of this two-page investor alert to help you better understand how this scam works and what you can do to protect yourself.

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Savvy consumers know it is important to compare prices on similar products to get the best value for their money. Wouldn’t it be nice if the same were true when shopping for a broker-dealer firm to handle your investments? Broker-dealer firms must disclose all fees to customers; however, brokerage firms are largely free to decide for themselves how to do this. Until fee disclosures are more consistent and transparent, the burden falls to the investor to understand all the fees. Download a copy of this two-page investor alert to help you better understand the fees you are being charged to determine if you are getting the best value for the services being provided.

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The list of financial institutions targeted by organized cyber attacks continues to grow with ever-increasing frequency. Since investors are encouraged to take steps to ensure their own personal systems are updated with the latest anti-virus and anti-malware software, and to follow proper account password safety protocol. Download a copy.

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While self-directed IRAs can be a safe way to invest retirement funds, investors should understand that third-party custodians have limited duties to investors. Download a copy of this two-page investor alert to learn the fictions and facts about third-party custodians of self-directed IRAs and other qualified plans.

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Have you ever seen an ad on the Internet or a posting on a social media site promising too-good-to-be-true rates of return in short periods of time? Then you may have encountered an advertisement for a high-yield investment program, sometimes referred to as an HYIP. Download a copy of this two-page investor alert to learn more about this type of Ponzi scheme and how you can protect yourself from fraud.

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Virtual currencies, which includes digital and crypto-currency, are gaining in both popularity and controversy. Thousands of merchants, businesses and other organizations currently accept Bitcoin, one example of crypto-currency, in lieu of traditional currency. Two attractive characteristics of virtual currency are lower transaction fees and greater anonymity. However, virtual currency is not without risk. Download a copy of this two-page investor alert to learn more about virtual currency and how you can protect your e-wallet.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Office of Investor Education and Advocacy and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) are jointly issuing this Investor Bulletin to help investors better understand the titles used by financial professionals. The requirements for obtaining and using these titles vary widely, from rigorous to nothing at all. To use certain titles, a financial professional may need to pass exams, meet ethical standards, have relevant work experience, and undertake continuing education. Other titles, however, may be obtained with little time, effort, and experience. Download PDF (This booklet is not available for order.)

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This 7-page booklet provides practical guidance about how consumers should go about selecting a financial advisor to assist them with their investments. It offers a clear, common sense discussion of the key differences between brokers, investment advisers and financial planners. This booklet is the result of a collaborative effort between the North American Securities Administrators Association, Investment Adviser Association, CFA Institute and the Financial Planning Coalition, which is comprised of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, the Financial Planning Association and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. Download PDF (This booklet is not available for order.)

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With energy demands and a desire for energy independence increasing globally, investments in traditional and alternative energy resources are being promoted more often and are becoming attractive to investors. Some examples include: wind turbines, solar panels, biodiesel, ethanol, coal, oil, gas, hydrogen, wave, geothermal, oil sands, and liquefied natural gas. These investments are highly risky and are not appropriate for all investors. It is not unusual for unscrupulous promoters to follow the headlines and take advantage of unsuspecting investors by engaging in fraudulent practices. Download a copy of this two-page investor alert to learn more about energy investments and how you can protect yourself from fraud.

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In 2012, Congress passed the JOBS Act, which directs the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to implement rules that, among other things, allow general solicitation and advertising of private placement offerings that are made in reliance on Regulation D, Rule 506. Once implemented, those rules will allow companies and promoters to offer securities through means such as direct mail, cold calls, free lunch seminars and media advertisements. As a result, unscrupulous companies and promoters may take advantage of the new rules to offer potentially fraudulent investments. Download a copy of this two-page investor alert to learn more about private placement offerings and how you can protect yourself from fraud.

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Whether you are just starting a retirement fund or need additional help with growing and managing your money, you may benefit from selecting an investment services professional. Finding a person who is knowledgeable, affordable, and trustworthy may be a challenging process. This advisory provides basic information on three types of investment services professionals and their obligations to you as a client: broker-dealer agents, investment adviser representatives, and financial planners. An individual professional can hold any of these three credentials or titles, among others. Download a copy of this two-page investor alert to learn more about financial service providers and how you can protect yourself from fraud.

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The Internet has become an inexpensive and easy way for individuals and businesses to raise money for their activities. Federal and state law now permit start-up companies to find investors using the Internet. Investors should be on the lookout for unscrupulous issuers and intermediaries who may attempt to misuse crowdfunding to steal from investors through false and misleading representations. Download a copy of this two-page investor alert to learn more about crowdfunding and how you can protect yourself from fraud.

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Under federal and state law, it is now possible for entrepreneurs to raise capital by offering to sell interests in their businesses over the Internet. However, federal and state crowdfunding laws place limitations on how and to whom a small business can sell its securities. Download a copy of this advisory to learn what every business owner should know to determine if crowdfunding is right for you and your business.

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Social networking allows people to connect to one another quickly and easily. But it also allows con artists to find potential victims more quickly. What are the red flags of an online investment scheme? Download a copy of this two-page investor alert to learn how you can protect yourself from fraud in social networking.

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Do you think gold is a safe investment? The answer might surprise you. Download a copy of this two-page investor alert that lists ten issues to consider before you make a gold-related investment.

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