Promissory notes are a form of debt that companies sometimes use to raise money. They typically involve investors loaning money to a company in exchange for a fixed amount of periodic income. Although promissory notes can be appropriate investments for many individuals, some fraudsters use promissory notes to defraud investors, especially the elderly.
For tips on how to avoid promissory note scams, read Broken Promises: Promissory Note Fraud. For more information, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) website has an alert on Promissory Notes Can Be Less Than Promised.
Pump and Dump Schemes
“Pump and dump” schemes have two parts. In the first, promoters try to boost the price of a stock with false or misleading statements about the company. Once the stock price has been pumped up, fraudsters move on to the second part, where they seek to profit by selling their own holdings of the stock, dumping shares into the market.
These schemes often occur on the Internet where it is common to see messages urging readers to buy a stock quickly. Often, the promoters will claim to have “inside” information about a development that will be positive for the stock. After these fraudsters dump their shares and stop hyping the stock, the price typically falls, and investors lose their money.