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Cooking the Books podcast: When is that golden investment a scam?

Each week the New Zealand Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking The Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's how to protect yourself from the scammers. Hosted by Frances Cook.

When you're trying to make a buck, the lure of finding the golden ticket is hard to resist.

The old saying "if it's too good to be true, it probably is", gets bandied around a lot, and yet people still fall for scams over and over again.

Even worse is when you think you know what you're doing. There's nothing more dangerous than a little bit of knowledge.

It's often just enough to over-inflate your confidence, and send you running headlong into deals that have major red flags.

Take cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

They're the hot thing right now, helped along by some astonishing rises in value. They're true disrupters, likely to change the way people do business, and there is certainly money to be made.

But unless you really know what you're doing, in my view cryptocurrencies are too similar to gambling at this point in time.

A new player pops up every day, and it's hard to tell the disrupters from those who've jumped on the bandwagon, or even worse, from the scammers.

Just a few days ago the Herald revealed a stern warning from the Financial Markets Authority about e-commerce site Sell My Good. Those behind it want investor cash for their website, and the digital currency people will need to use it, SMG Cash.

The FMA warned people away from the company, and the Weekend Herald investigation found traffic on the website appeared to have been inflated by a factor of 10,000.

There's nothing like goosing your numbers to make it more attractive to investors.

Sell My Good eventually withdrew their investment offer and said their website was hacked.

I called Paul Gregory, director of external communications and investor capability for the Financial Markets Authority, to talk us through the difference between hot opportunities and dodgy deals.

We talked about the questions to ask yourself before you even start investing, red flags that you should always be cautious of, and the particular danger of investments based overseas.

For the interview, listen to the podcast.

If you have a question about the episode or something you want me to look into for the future, come and talk to me about it. You can find me on Facebook here and Twitter here.

Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on Apple podcasts or I Heart Radio, to make sure you never miss an episode.

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