Hawaii investors cautioned about financial con artists

HONOLULU (KHNL) -  With the current economic situation and unprecedented turmoil on Wall Street, Hawaii Commissioner of Securities Tung Chan is cautioning Hawaii investors against making sudden and uninformed financial decisions.

Chan says past experience shows that con artists prey on the worries and fears of everyday investors.

She says state regulators are concerned scammers are gearing up to promote various investment schemes with promises of big returns.

"In times of confusion, fear and uncertainty, there are always those who will try to prey on the investing public," said Chan.  "Investors should resist the temptation to make hasty decisions about their investments or finances."

Chan provided the following tips for investors:

* Check registration.  Make sure that the seller is registered to sell securities and the investments are registered as securities. If they are not, they may be operating illegally.  Contact the Hawai`i Office of the Securities Commissioner at 586-2740 to check registration of an investment firm, professional or product.

* Use common sense. Some things really are too good to be true. Get a professional, trusted third-party opinion when presented with investment opportunities that seem to offer unusually high returns in comparison to other investment options.

* Make sure you understand the investment.  If you don't, don't buy.  Request written information that fully explains the investment, such as a prospectus or offering circular. The documentation should contain enough clear and accurate information to allow you to evaluate and verify the particulars of the investment.

* Be cautious before making big changes.  If you participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k) plan, get unbiased advice and guidance before making any significant changes to your long-term savings and investment strategy.