August 18, 2023 by David Christianson
If you’ve spent any time on any social media platforms over the last few weeks, you have probably been inundated with advertisements for “Quantum AI” or similar stock trading platforms, promising risk-free high returns.
Many of these are introduced by a supposed video of Elon Musk himself claiming to have spent $1 billion of his own money developing this perfect artificial intelligence stock trading algorithm. My investigations showed that any connection to Musk and his companies is bunk.
Be very wary before even investigating such a platform. I found out
the pitfalls myself when looking into this on behalf of some clients,
and I am getting 10-15 phone calls a day now trying to get me to
finish my registration, from dozens of different area codes. (And if I
call back, the numbers are not in service…)
The pitch goes like this:
- Register to set up an account;
- Deposit a minimum of $250;
- Watch the magic of artificial intelligence make money for you without risk;
- Withdraw your winnings (or your deposit) at any time;
- Once you are convinced it works as promised, deposit more money, and start to live on the passive income. Make your financial dreams come true.
Does any of this set off a red flag for you? It should, as almost every claim is a hallmark of, at best, a pitch to get you to part with your money and, at worst, a set up to steal your personal information.
My professional investigation stopped quickly when they asked me for my credit card number to make my initial deposit, and then provided links to click on in order to complete my “registration process”.
Never give your credit card number, banking information or any other personal details to anyone, even if they claim to be from your own bank and appear to know lots about you. Do not click anything you receive in an email or message.
In the case of “Quantum AI”, I had already become suspicious when I received a phone call within 30 seconds of my initial inquiry, then another call a minute later when I missed the first one.
After I said no to providing credit card info and politely ended the call, I received a quick call back from a more senior rep who was an amazing salesperson. His first promise was that they would never ask for my credit card information, having been apparently briefed on my concern.
He further stated that they would have no access to my account I was to set up, they were “registered” with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, they were a legitimate business operating on Front Street in Toronto and once I registered, I would be transferred to a financial expert who was a “licensed advisor”, a position to which my new friend aspired.
But he could never tell me with which government or industry organization this person was licensed or registered. Nevertheless, he was relentless and had an answer to every objection. He spent way more time with me than any legitimate person would, to make a $250 sale.
Since then, I have had more than 40 phone calls trying to get me to sign up and give them my information. The best salesperson told me that they only make money from me after I am satisfied with my returns and deposit more thousands, at which time they will take 3-5% of my profits.
What really scares me about this is the skill of the salespeople. Even after I swore at this guy, he was smart enough to hear me out, then addressed my skepticism by coming up with a legitimate story about how they will make money. He knew I was too smart to believe they work for free.
Bottom line? Without calling this a scam, nothing about it suggests a legitimate business offer, but rather a get-rich-quick scheme praying on the naïve.
More generally, scams are getting more and more sophisticated and attractive. My advice is to ramp up your healthy skepticism to a full-blown mistrust of anything that tries to pull you in. Don’t worry, you won’t miss out.
* * *
Dollars and Sense is meant as an introduction to this topic and should not in any way be construed as a replacement for personalized professional advice.
Please consult legal, tax, insurance and investment experts for advice on your unique situation.
David Christianson, BA, CFP, R.F.P., TEP, CIM is recipient of the FP Canada™ Fellow (FCFP) Distinction, and repeatedly named a Top 50 Financial Advisor in Canada. He is a Senior Wealth Advisor and Portfolio Manager with Christianson Wealth Advisors at National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.