What is a 'High-Yield Investment Program - HYIP'

A high-yield investment program (HYIP) is a fraudulent investment scheme that purports to deliver extraordinarily high returns on investment. High-yield investment schemes often advertise yields of more than 100% per year in order to lure in victims. In reality, these high-yield investment programs are Ponzi schemes, and the organizers aim to steal the money invested. In a Ponzi scheme, money from new investors is taken to pay returns to established investors. Money is not invested and no actual underlying returns are earned, new money is just used to pay people who entered the scam earlier than they did.

This scam is also known as the "prime bank scam."

BREAKING DOWN 'High-Yield Investment Program - HYIP'

High-yield investment programs (HYIPs) are investment scams that promise unreasonably high returns and often just use new investors' money to pay off older investors. Of course, this is not to be confused with a legitimate high-yield bond investment, which offers higher than investment-grade interest rates.

The SEC advises that there are several warning signs that investors can use to help avoid being victimized by high-yield investment program scams. These include excessive guaranteed returns, fictitious financial instruments, extreme secrecy, claims that the investments are an exclusive opportunity, and inordinate complexity surrounding the investments. Perpetrators of high-yield investment programs use secrecy and a lack of transaction transparency to hide the fact that there are no legitimate underlying investments. The best weapons against getting sucked into a high-yield investment program is to ask a lot of questions and use common sense. If an investment return sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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