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Almost every stock pick site offers a newsletter that is supposedly full of useful insights and great stocks. There are many good newsletters out there, but some are just promoting stocks under the guise of presenting investors with "free unbiased information."
In fact, many companies hire employees or pay people to write online newsletters to promote their stock. In theory, this practice is not illegal. But federal securities laws require newsletters to disclose who paid them, the amount paid, and the type of payment. Most fraudulent newsletters fail to provide this information. Instead, they lie about the income they receive, their independence, their research, and their historical results. They stand to profit handsomely if they convince investors to buy or sell particular stocks. Newsletters also use the pump and dump technique discussed earlier. With enough people on the list, it is possible to create movement in the price of small stocks.
Even worse is junk e-mail or "spam." As spam costs next to nothing to create, it has become the tool of choice for many fraudsters. Often these messages consist of "get-rich-quick" schemes and offer "guaranteed results." If the sender is unfamiliar to you or the message is addressed generally (great investment tip) it is likely a scam. Brokers and traders don't give away good tips to random people for free. Besides, no reputable company would spam to get their name out. The smartest thing you can do is hit your delete button.
Identifying these shady e-mails isn't tough. Besides promising huge results with no risk, look for CAPITALIZED LETTERS WITH MANY EXCLAMATION MARKS!!! FOR SOME REASON SCAM ARTISTS THINK YOU'LL LISTEN IF THEY WRITE LIKE THEY ARE SCREAMING AT YOU!!! Another clue is when the e-mail comes from free e-mail providers such as yahoo.com or hotmail.com. Spammers use these addresses to hide where the original message comes from.
Below are some examples of e-mails to watch out for. These are real, uncut, uncensored, spam scams sent to our Inbox at Investopedia:
Stock spam example 1
Stock spam example 2
Stock spam example 3
Next: Investment Scams: Dealing With Investment Fraud »
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