Robert Kalinowski

Not Asking and Checking Cost One Investor $100,000

Most children turn to their parents for financial guidance. But sometimes it's the parent who needs help.

Older people are regularly targeted by fraud criminals because they have money, whether it's retirement savings, home equity or steady forms of income. Experienced investors may also believe they're too smart to be scammed. But research funded by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation shows that financially savvy, self-reliant investors are more likely to be victims of fraud than those who are less knowledgeable.

"Investors who are overconfident about their ability to spot a ‘great opportunity' are less likely to ask for help and advice from others," said FINRA Foundation President Gerri Walsh. "And that's exactly what fraud criminals want."

"Adult children should talk to their parents about investment fraud and be sure they are familiar with the tactics fraud criminals use," Walsh said. "It may be hard for some people to talk about money, but getting your parents to come to you or someone else they trust for a second opinion before making an investment decision is a good way to avoid trouble."

It is a discussion Robert Kalinowski, a 25-year veteran of the Vermont State Police, wishes he had with his father.

The older Kalinowski was befriended by a local financial advisor. The two would go to local high school sporting events together. But the friendship was a ruse to steal $100,000 in an investment scheme.

"I did not see this happening," Kalinowski said. "I felt rotten. I was supposed to protect everybody … but I did not see this coming."

Checking the advisor's registration to sell securities would have revealed that he was no longer licensed. The advisor was eventually charged with embezzlement and grand larceny, but died before the trial.

"No matter what, it can happen to anybody," Kalinowski said. "They have to check before they invest their money, ask questions, ask the experts, do research. If it could happen to our family, it could happen to anybody."

See more stories of investment fraud.