Consumer Alert: Four words to watch out for when investing in a scam
Postal inspectors say to listen for the words 'guaranteed rate of return.'
There are four words to listen for when someone is trying to sell you an investment. One large group of investigators could have saved a million dollars if they had known that those words, in which most cases indicate a scam.
"He convinced them that he was going to make them a ton of money," says Hope Cerda, a Postal Inspector.
He is Hector Gallardo, a U.S. stock broker, who targeted investors in Bolivia, even though he was born in Argentina.
"This individual went down to Bolivia, wined and dined them basically, told them that everything was guaranteed, and they can make money on the stock exchange," says Cerda. "They just had to send the money and he would take care of everything for you. He told them that they could get basically a rate of return of 18 percent guaranteed."
Three-hundred victims sent Gallardo a little more than a million dollars.
"He was very charismatic," says Cerda. "He knows the language. He was able to befriend these people. They were enticed by the fact that he was from South America and that he had made it in the United States so they figured that he could help them make it."
The people who invested with Gallardo were not rich.
"All of them are working class people," says Cerda. "They don't have a lot of money. They were looking to better themselves. They weren't looking to make millions of dollars. They were just looking to help their families out."
Authorities say Gallardo deposited their money in his own bank account.
"He took the money and went on vacations," says Cerda. "He had nice cars. He had a beautiful home. He just spent the money any way he wanted to make his life better."
Postal inspectors say there's a take-away from this case.
"If someone is guaranteeing you a rate of return that is much higher than you know to be factual, it most likely is a scam," says Cerda.
Postal inspectors say to listen for the words 'guaranteed rate of return.' They say if you hear them, run in the other direction.
As for Gallardo, he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay almost $900,000 in restitution.