The good news is that there are ways to help make ends meet, even during the holidays. Tap or click here for 10 ways to make extra money online. Just like your family, fraudsters also have traditions and the holiday season provides them with the seemingly perfect opportunity to lure victims in with the promise of making quick cash. Now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a warning about three popular investment scams making the rounds right now.

Real estate investment seminar

Real estate can be a lucrative business, but those not trained or familiar with the practices can quickly fall into this smooth-talking trap. For this scam, a fraudster would set up an in-person or online seminar, offering to teach you how to invest in various properties. They might also try to sell you specific business coaching systems and will definitely use words like “risk-free” or “no obligation”. Regardless of the method, the FTC explains that the scammers will undoubtedly try to sell you the idea of getting rich quick even if you have no experience. As with most things in life, nothing is a “sure thing” and that new condo development in Duckwater, Nevada will not make you an overnight millionaire. The most important thing to remember when you suspect something is a little off, is to carefully listen to the words that they use. Most of the time they will promise step-by-step training, provide you with testimonials from other “participants,” or offer to show you their financials. Don’t fall for it, as most of it is faked. If you suspect it is scam, contact the FBI’s Investment Fraud division, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or your state’s securities regulator.

Precious metals and coin investment scams

In another popular scheme, unscrupulous dealers in precious metals or rare coins will try to convince you that “now is the right time” to invest in gold, platinum or silver. The goal is to part you with your money as quickly as you can, before you can do your own research and check the latest trading prices. The FTC warns that, just like real estate investment programs, many of the testimonials are faked or the return on investment (ROI) is greatly exaggerated. They also use an old trick by linking current world events to an imminent spike or expected drop in price. Remember, the goal is to part you with your cash as quickly as possible. Investing in precious metals or coins can be profitable, but you must be aware of the risks involved. Don’t rush to a decision, and research each offer on your own time. Read up on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s precious metals fraud alert and prepare some questions. It is always a good idea to get a second or third opinion, and never to rely on the facts, figures and statistics from one dealer.

Investment coaching scams

Taking a cue from the real estate investment scam, criminals will try to sell you the grand idea that you could be making four-times your salary by using their “patented,” “tested” or “proven” strategy. Their “plan” is often tied to investing in stocks and bonds, and for a small amount of money you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time. They will use flashy infomercials, well-designed newsletters or online advertising to entice you. Once the fraudsters hooked you in, you’ll discover that it’s going to cost much more than what they initially promised to receive their training.

What to do when you suspect a scam

With all potential scams, the adage, “if it’s too good to be true” is incredibly important. Promises that you’ll get rich quickly are lies, and the only thing that scammers are interested in is taking your money. The smart thing to do is to just walk away if you suspect that a seminar or online presentation is a potential scam. The FTC recommends that you report possible fraud to their specialized division, file a complaint with the SEC or simply contact your local authorities.