If you’ve ever fantasized about never having to worry about money again, you’re not alone. There are companies peddling investment strategies to, they say, make your dreams come true. But before you spend big money for a chance at wealth, read on.
In its case against Online Trading Academy (OTA), the FTC says people were lured into paying as much as $50,000 for “training” and a “patented strategy” that OTA said would teach them how to create wealth by investing in stocks, bonds, and other securities. In infomercials and other ads encouraging people to attend free preview events, OTA stated or implied that its investment strategy would set people up for life – and even let them stop working.
At the free preview events, says the FTC, OTA piled on the promises of more investment information and higher earnings … if only people would agree to pay $300 for OTA’s Market Timing Orientation. At the orientations, OTA shared supposed success stories from, for example, someone who claimed to be making $800 a day trading, and another who claimed monthly profits in the thousands or tens of thousands. OTA also showed supposed live trades yielding significant returns -- but these were often fake trades, according to the FTC. The FTC says OTA used such earnings claims to pitch additional training costing anywhere from around $19,000 to $50,000 or more. But, despite all the hype, OTA allegedly had no basis for its claims of substantial earnings. Most purchasers weren’t able to use OTA’s purported strategy to make any money. In fact, many, if not most, lost money trading on top of the large sums they paid OTA.
The FTC says OTA often encouraged consumers to take out short term loans from OTA to finance the purchase of its training -- telling them that no interest was due for the first six months. But most people were unable to repay their loans within that time frame and ended up paying as much as 18 percent in loan interest. In addition, OTA allegedly tried to silence dissatisfied customers who sought a refund from OTA by requiring them to sign agreements barring them from posting negative reviews about OTA and its personnel, or from reaching out to law enforcement agencies about OTA and its practices.
Investing always comes with some risk. But investment programs that promise to teach you how to make substantial returns with a high degree of likelihood are often scams. Learn more about how to protect yourself by checking out Investment and Business Opportunity Scams.
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