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Investor Protection

Types of Fraud

Anyone can fall victim to financial fraud. Here are some scams to be wary of:

Internet Scams

Scam artists reach millions of victims via the internet. They lie to try and convince you to either send them money or your personal bank card or financial information. With the internet, fraudsters can operate anonymously from anywhere in the world, making them hard to catch. Once you’ve given your money to an online scam artist, it’s likely gone for good. Double check any information or suspicious emails you receive.

Boiler Room Scams

With this scam you can expect to receive a phone call from someone you don’t know, claiming to offer you the “chance of a lifetime” to make lots of money. Saying it’s a “sure thing” as long as you keep buying a certain stock. They attempt to persuade you to invest in shares that are either non-existent, or so worthless they are impossible to sell. The fraudsters may provide false share certificates and other documents to make the investments seem credible. Once the fraudsters have squeezed whatever money they can from investors, they quickly disappear.

Ponzi or Pyramid Schemes

With Ponzi Schemes the premise is simple: pay early investors with money raised from later investors. The only people sure to make money are the promoters who set the Ponzi in motion. In this scam high returns are promised to investors. Ponzi schemes are sometimes referred to as pyramid schemes, but this is inaccurate.

In pyramid schemes the promoter starts off like a Ponzi scheme but the difference is that the promoter encourages investors to bring in new investors thus, adding successively  broader levels giving the scheme a triangular or pyramid shape. The promoter in this instance, relies on the next layer of victims to invest their monies, to support the previous layers of investors.

Inevitably new people stop joining and since it is the funds from the new persons that keep the pyramid steady, the pyramid eventually begins to totter and there is no more money to be paid out. You and countless others subsequently lose your investment.

Unlicensed Selling of Securities

Anyone selling securities without a valid securities license should be a red alert for investors.

Unregistered Investment Products

Scam artists bypass stringent registration requirements to pitch settlements, and other investment contracts with the promise of “limited or no risk” and high returns

Promissory Notes

A promissory note is an unconditional promise in writing made by one person to another signed by the maker, agreeing to pay, on demand or at a fixed or determinable future time, a certain sum of money to, or to the order of, a specified person or to bearer.* Basically it is a signed document containing a written promise to pay a stated sum to a specified person or the bearer at a specified date or on demand. “Empty promises …. printed.”

Senior Investment Fraud

Seniors are particularly vulnerable to scam artists who pretend to be “nice” or attempt to develop a false bond of friendship. Scam artists prey on seniors who are polite to others and have difficulty saying “no” or feel indebted to someone who has provided unsolicited investment advice. These financial predators use tactics to instil seniors with the fear of running out of money and becoming a burden to their families. They prey upon the loneliness and isolation, and availability of some retired or widowed seniors. Seniors should carefully check the credentials of investment advisers or financial planners holding themselves out to be “senior specialists.”

Affinity Fraud

This scam often happens in social groups. Con artists are increasingly targeting religious, ethnic, cultural and professional groups. They quietly join a club, religious or community group. Once they gain the trust of the members in the group, they will try to convince them that their fraudulent investment is legitimate, and encourage them to participate. These con artists sell to a few prominent members of the community and then pitch the scam to the rest of the group by using the names of those previously sold. They will then eventually scam the group members, their friends and families, and just as quietly, disappear.

This scam often goes unreported – victims include: minority groups, religious groups, the elderly etc.

Rights and Responsibilities of an Investor

  • You have a right to receive truthful information from an investment adviser
  • You have a right to accurate information from a Reporting Issuer (A company that has issued shares to the public and is subject to continuous disclosure requirements by the TTSEC)
  • You have a responsibility to ask questions and do your research on the investment adviser, the broker dealer and the investment product
  • You have a responsibility to check with the TTSEC’s website – www.ttsec.org.tt for a list of registered companies, investment advisers and broker-dealers before conducting any investment transactions
  • You have a right to choose where you wish to invest. Explore all your options
  • You are entitled to lodge a complaint with the TTSEC if you experience any problems

Before making any securities investment, all investors are urged to ask the following questions:

  • Is the seller licensed and the investment registered?
  • Has the seller provided you written information that fully explains the investment?
  • Are claims made for the investment realistic?
  • Does the investment meet your personal investment goals?

Don’t let this be you! Don’t be a victim of investment fraud.

Complaints Procedure

The Commission has the authority to investigate and adjudicate all complaints lodged with it under section 49 of the Act.

The staff of the Commission reviews and investigates all complaints and tips related to the securities industry, including but not limited to those made against registrants (broker-dealers, investment advisers, underwriters, and reporting issuers) Complaints must be made in writing.

Upon receipt of a complaint or tip, the staff of the Commission may decide that further investigation is warranted, if the actions of these individuals or companies suggest a possible breach or possible breaches of the Act. Upon completion of an investigation, including the provision of legal advice (internal and external), staff of the Commission will make a recommendation to the Board which may include convening a hearing, if staff is of the opinion that the individual or company against whom a complaint was made, has contravened or is contravening the Act.

Where can a victim of investment fraud go for help?

  • Lodge a complaint to the TTSEC using the online complaint form on our website at ttsec.org.tt or call us at 624-2991 and ask for our market regulation and surveillance division.


  • Report a scam anonymously through our Investor Protection App available on both the Google Playstore and Apple Store.

SEC Complaint Procedure

What is the first step in lodging a complaint regarding any aspect of the securities market?

Step 1: Make your complaint to the company

You should make your complaint in writing to the company concerned.

If you have a problem with an investment product you have purchased or the service that you have received, you are entitled to complain and receive some form of redress.

As an investor you have the right to:

  • Receive a clearly defined process for raising and resolving complaints;
  • Receive information about alternatives available to you if the firm is unable to resolve a dispute to your satisfaction.

Step 2: Get the company’s response to your complaint in writing

If you are dissatisfied with the company’s response to your complaint or if you are unable to resolve your complaint with the company you should request a letter from the company stating its final position on your complaint. You should also make a note of any persons at the company with whom you discussed the matter. Go to Step 3.

Step 3: Lodge a complaint with the Commission

The Commission has the authority to investigate complaints in respect of the securities industry and models its procedures on best practices in developed securities markets.

Write a summary of your problem while ensuring that all of the key elements relevant to your complaint are provided in as clear a manner as possible.Provide copies of all supporting documents. If you are mailing in your complaint please attach a photocopy of all documents, including letters, contracts, invoices and any other papers related to your problem. Whilst we will need to see your original documents for verification we will keep the photocopies for the purposes of the investigation.

Investigations are usually non-public and kept confidential. 

Step 4: The Commission will review your written complaint

The Commission will acknowledge your complaint. The letter will provide you with a reference number which you will need to quote when contacting our offices.

The Commission has the authority to investigate the complaint if the person has been aggrieved by any act of any individual or company falling under the Act.

Once the investigation is complete, the Commission may take a decision on the matter and may make such order as it thinks just in keeping with section 49(4) of the Act.

Investor Protection App

Report a scam anonymously through our Investor Protection App available on both the Google Playstore and Apple Store.