By Gerald Tay (guest contributor)

Let me start by saying that I want you to read this post as a commentary on the seminar industry and its practices, rather than as a rant. A rant would require me to be worked up about something. I’m not worked up, just incredulous that no one has pointed any of this out yet.

There are real people who share real education with real experiences. And many learners have benefitted from their sincere sharing. But there are also those who profit from lies, and who give a bad reputation to the entire industry and to the real educators.

The more valuable something is, the higher the effort required to achieve it

Many people are not equipped with the necessary skills to evaluate investments properly. Some of these skills can only come with experience. When I was a naive investor and a regular seminar “junkie” years ago, I had my fair share of being fooled and paid the “tuition fee”.

The more valuable something is, the higher the effort required to achieve it. Accept this or be prepared to lose money!

Since building wealth is of a higher value compared to going to a casino, it takes time. Many of these wealth programs are orientated towards the masses who want to get started on the path to riches after attending a free seminar preview (Property, Stocks, Forex etc.) by some ‘guru’.

Every ‘expert’ out there has an agenda and it’s NOT for your benefit

Logically, in order to learn the subtleties of any craft, you have to seek out the masters. If you want to become a doctor, only doctors can teach you. If you want to become a computer programmer, you read thick books on the subject written by experts. If you want to become a martial arts master, you go to the grandmasters.

There is one big problem, however. That problem is called superficial analysis. Every ‘expert’ out there has an agenda. This can become incredibly frustrating in your search for the truth. Everybody claims to have the secret, but few are honest.

Bogus ‘gurus’ exposed

Here is a non-exhaustive list of transgressions by so-called gurus I’ve compiled:

  • A Forex guru claimed a doctorate degree in forex and was later exposed for fraud.
  • A well-known property guru was caught selling overseas properties to her seminar attendees without a proper license. Her company is currently blacklisted by the MAS.
  • Well-known local wealth guru sued by his partner, aprominent local millionaire businessman for fraudulent accounting.
  • Well-known local property guru admitted she’s also one of the investors with the fallen Eco-House property scam. And she is supposed to be an “expert”? She was also caught selling overseas properties to her seminar attendees without a proper license.
  • Well-known (sneaky) local shares guru uses dirty business monopoly and wealth illusions to make money.
  • Guru and founder of Geneva Gold was exposed to be a fraud by the MAS. His company was also blacklisted by the MAS.

Who will be next on the list?

Who gets rich? You or the“guru”?

Why are people paying so much money so that someone can tell them how to get rich? The pros are just feeding the masses with unrealistic expectations and want the amateurs to believe they are actually revealing the real secret to wealth.

Fiction and fairy tale stories sell. Reality is boring. The marketing department knows this. Who really gets richer after the seminar?

Not the students for sure. It’s the ‘guru’; from collecting book royalties, expensive seminar fees, commissions, freebies, free properties from property developers and many other sponsorships.

A good advisor is someone who is in the business of investing and not in the business of selling seminar tickets.

Warning signs

Watch out for the following warning signs before signing up for a seminar by a ‘guru’:

  • Advertisements for seminars or property investment schemes that promise a ‘risk-free investment’, ‘be a millionaire in two years’, ‘own properties with little or no money down’, or that will generate a guaranteed 20% to 25% per annum from investments, and other similar kinds of catchy marketing phrases.
  • Promises of above-average returns at little or no risk.
  • The first seminar (usually a preview) you are invited to attend may be free or costs little, but where there are high fees to attend further seminars.
  • Credit card instalment payments for paying either the seminar fees or further investments.
  • Investment seminars that offer to teach you ‘secret’ or ‘exclusive’ techniques for building wealth.

Tips for protecting yourself from getting scammed

Protect yourself from investment scams via the following tips:

  • Use your common sense: consider the possibility that the offer may be a scam.
  • Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes, guaranteed or high yielding investments: the only people who make money are the scammers.
  • Do not let anyone pressure you into making decisions about money or investments: always get independent financial advice.
  • Remember that family members and friends may try to involve you in a scam without realising that it is a scam – you should seek independent advice (from a lawyer or trusted financial adviser)
  • Be wary of investments promising a high return with little or no risk.
  • If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Overpriced get-rich-quick seminars are a sort of circus dedicated to money worship, meant to take money from the participants and enrich the promoters and the speakers. Few people really care about your success. It’s a dog eat dog world.

By guest contributor Gerald Tay, who is the founder and coach at CREI Academy Group Pte Ltd, an organization dedicated to empowering retail property investors with smarter investing philosophy and strategies. He is a full-time investor with over 13 years of solid experience in building his wealth through Property Investment and is financially wealthy today.

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