Overconfident, middle-aged men are the most likely victims of investment fraud, according to a new report from global securities regulators that highlights the challenge regulators face in combating fraud.
The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) published a new report Wednesday detailing the results of research into the strategies and tactics being used by regulators to warn retail investors about investment fraud, and to educate investors on how to protect themselves against fraud.
The report notes that investment fraud looks similar around the world, with fraudsters using common tactics such as cold-calling, or sending unsolicited emails, that offer unrealistic returns, or use other high-pressure sales tactics. In response, regulators around the world offer similar messages warning investors about these common approaches and alerting them to warning signs. Most also focus on the importance of dealing with registered firms and individuals, and to some extent, registered products, it notes.
The report, which is based on a survey of regulators that participate in IOSCO’s Committee on Retail Investors, also found that one of the most important “surprises” to regulators is the research showing that the majority of fraud victims are “overconfident educated middle-aged males.”
Regulators also say they were surprised with how quickly investors are to trust fraudsters; investors’ naiveté, and lack of awareness about the resources government agencies offer to protect them; that even sophisticated/highly literate investors fall victim to fraudulent schemes; and, the ease and speed with which fraudulent investment schemes can be carried out. These factors all pose challenges to regulators in their efforts to warn investors about fraud.
According to the report, regulators say that they need to reach a broader audience with their anti-fraud messages; that they need to do a better job of identifying the most effective delivery methods for those messages; and that measuring and evaluating their success needs to improve too.
The most common way of getting regulators’ message out is through a traditional website, the report notes. However, it also finds that regulators are exploring innovative ways of reaching retail investors, including mobile apps, video games and multimedia campaigns. Regulators in Nigeria are even developing a weekly TV soap opera that focuses on investment fraud.
“This report illustrates with concrete, creative and innovative examples taken from many parts of the world, how regulators are engaged with investors to raise awareness of investment fraud,” said Howard Wetston, chairman of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), who is also chair of IOSCO’s Committee on Retail Investors, and vice chairman of the IOSCO board.
“I trust that the report will be a helpful source for regulators in developing their own strategies to prevent fraudulent behaviors,” Wetston added.