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Did you know that Bernie Madoff stole $20 billion dollars before he was caught?

How did he do it? Well, people gave it to him.

Madoff was the leader of an elaborate Ponzi scheme that allowed him to take people’s life savings and destroy them for his gain. Unfortunately, most of the people who gave Madoff money have still not received it back.

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ADR abuseInvesting in international assets is a great way to diversify and strengthen your portfolio. A healthy assortment of international security assets can set you up for long term success and aid your investments in weathering market volatility. Investing in internationally-based assets is made possible through the use of American Depositary Receipts (ADRs).

An ADR is a security that represents shares of non-U.S. companies that are held by a U.S. depositary bank outside the United States. They allow you to invest in non-U.S. companies as well as provide non-U.S. companies easier access to the U.S. capital markets. Currently, there are more than 2,000 ADRs available which represent shares of companies in more than 70 countries.

While ADRs present new avenues and opportunities available to you, they – as with any security – are not without risks. As an investor, you need to perform the necessary research and due diligence on an ADR-represented security prior to investing.

This year has seen some major ups-and-downs in the stock market. While fluctuations have been relatively small, their repetitive nature is significant.

For instance: you may not have noticed on the average day if the S&P 500 ended 1% below its intraday high or 1% above its intraday high, but now consider that it has fluctuated between the two over 70 times in 2018, and those minor shifts start to take on a lot more weight (this intraday fluctuation was recorded six times in 2017).

While the stock market maintains a seemingly placid overall performance on the surface, growing uncertainty over external and domestic economic factors are causing unease among investors, and exposing underlying volatility in the marketplace.

While the stock market has been booming in recent years, 84% of stocks are held by 10% of the population. Despite this fact, there are millions of Americans that hold on to stocks and are no less susceptible to stock fraud than anyone else. Stock fraud can hit investors of all types, most especially those that aren’t as well versed in the world of trading.

Here are six signs that you might have been a victim of stock fraud that you need to look out for.

1. Brokers Trading Without Your Authorization

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You trusted your stockbroker with your hard-earned money. And it seemed like a great arrangement…at first.

Now, you’re worried that your stockbroker is committing fraud with your investments.

You’re not alone. In 2017, 66,873 cases of securities fraud and theft were reported to the United States Sentencing Commission.

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As an investor, you want someone to protect you and maintain a fair and orderly stock market, right? That’s the role of the Securities and Exchange Commission or the SEC.

Whether it be your retirement savings, accounts to pay for college tuition, or investments just to build wealth, the SEC is there to make sure that investors are protected and that the market is fair.

Keep reading to learn more about the history of the SEC, their role, and why they are important. After reading this article, you’ll undoubtedly be able to answer the question “what does the SEC do?”.

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Understanding Index Funds

There’s a lot of ways you can get involved in securities investing. Some of the most popular methods are through the use of what are called index funds. An index fund is a type of mutual fund that tracks the performance and returns of a market index.

You are probably familiar with stock and security market indexes like the S&P 500 or Russell 2000 index. Because a market index essentially acts as a barometer to track and project returns for a collection of similar securities, you are not able to directly invest in them. However, since index funds seek to track the returns of market indexes, you are able to use them as a sort of indirect investment channel.

market manipulationYou know that the factors affecting an investment’s valuation go behind standard data and metrics. Often, an investment’s value can hinge largely on highly subjective factors, like public perception. The “reputation” of an asset or security can either signal an attractive investment opportunity or drive away investors.

You’ve probably heard of pump and dump schemes; a form of stock manipulation wherein essential information about an asset may be misrepresented or misreported in order to artificially drive-up its value before the scammer dumps their shares. In these types of schemes, fraudsters create a buy frenzy by promoting a stock as a desirable investment.

Well there’s also an inverse to this type of investment fraud and it’s called a short and distort scam.

Regardless of your investing experience, nobody knows everything there is to know about stock and securities trading. That’s why you have probably enlisted the help of an investment professional, either as a sounding-board for investment decisions or to assist you in facilitating and completing transactions. An investment advisor or a broker-dealer can be a great asset as you build and diversify your portfolio.

However, for all the good they can do, an investment advisor who does not have your best investment interests at heart can pose a serious risk to the health and stability of your portfolio.

How well do you know your investment advisor?

Investing in your future financial security is one of the wisest decisions you can make. Planning for your retirement now can provide you with peace-of-mind for the future. There are many ways you can invest in retirement savings; one of the most popular being through an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). The great thing about IRAs is that there are several different types available, so you can find the one that suits your investment plan.

However, most traditional IRA savings accounts offer a limited selection of investment options. Typically, they offer a selection pre-approved by the firm or entity servicing your investment account. If you are looking for greater flexibility in terms of investment options, you may want to consider opening a self-directed IRA account.

Self-directed IRAs allow you to invest in a broader portfolio of assets than traditional IRAs. What’s important to understand, however, is that with greater flexibility in your investment options, you may be subject to additional risks.

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