Becoming a victim of a “too good to be true offer” does not necessarily mean that all is lost. Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona is aware that some taxpayers may have experienced losses in certain investment arrangements discovered to be criminally fraudulent. Often these investments turn out to be “Ponzi Schemes” where investors lose because there are no real profits to be had.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a revenue procedure that provides an optional safe harbor treatment for taxpayers who experienced losses in certain investment arrangements discovered to be criminally fraudulent. It also describes how the IRS will treat a return that claims a deduction for such a loss but does not use the safe harbor treatment as described in this revenue procedure. Taxpayers claiming a loss are instructed to mark “Revenue Procedure 2009-20″ at the top of the Form 4684.
“It is devastating when someone falls victim to a fraudulent investment scheme,” said Kim States, BBB president. “It is important to be proactive before making a decision, but also to make sure that everything in your power is done to clean up the damage after.”
BBB offers these tips for someone looking for a legitimate investment.
- Don’t invest with someone just because your friends/colleagues/associates do. There’s no guarantee that they’ve done their homework about an investment. Furthermore, if the seller is part of that group, it’s likely everyone trusts this person and subsequently do not check into their past or their investments.
- Be aware of anyone who claims to be able to bring back a return above the market rate. This promise of a large return is alluring, but a red flag that something is not right. Do not trust anyone who claims to have a different or “special” way of making things happen.
- Find out as much as you can. Investing your hard earned money is not something you should take lightly. Ask questions and find out fully where you are putting your money. Be open to references as well doing your own research. Check out Business Reviews with Better Business Bureau.
- Get as much information as possible in writing. Be sure to get details of the offer, names of validating organizations, the organization’s own research documentation, and copies of any contracts you will be asked to sign.
- Consult an unbiased third party. Look for an unconnected broker or licensed financial advisor before investing, research the advisor or broker through business reviews at www.bbb.org.