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Penny Stock Checklist

"Free” offer is apparently tied to a subscription that isn’t free.

Ever since our investigation into the publishing giant Agora and its continued use of deceptive claims aimed at misleading seniors (and subsequent complaint to the FTC), we’ve been getting slammed with suspicious emails seeming to offer investment advice. Just yesterday we got one with a very specific figure in the subject line.

“$39,587.92 a month?” the subject said.

The email was signed by Tim Sykes, an editor at Agora Financial, a subsidiary of Agora, who explained that the figure was what he made in a single month trading penny stocks. Despite what everyone knows about the stock market — that it goes up and down — Sykes claimed that he does this “all the time,” that is, make a boatload of money every month trading penny stocks. He said if we wanted “a REAL shot at financial freedom,” we should get his “Penny Stock Checklist,” which he happened to be giving away for free. Score.

We clicked the link and were taken to a page with a timer at the top that ticked down from 7:58 (again, why not a round number?), indicating when our Penny Stock Checklist would “arrive.”  However, when the timer expired, nothing happened. Maybe they ran out. Perhaps this was for the better. We scrolled down the page and discovered the following fine print:

This manual is for informational and entertainment purposes only. The author is not an investment adviser, financial adviser, or broker, and the material contained herein is not intended as investment advice. If you wish to obtain personalized investment advice, you should consult with a Certified Financial Planner.

The terms of service linked just above this disclaimer at the bottom of the page further warned that “there is a very high risk involved in trading securities and, in particular, in trading futures and options, and in trading penny stocks.” The terms also stated that if you purchase a subscription, you are agreeing to automatic charges in the future. In other words, the “free” offer is apparently tied to a subscription that isn’t free.

Another reminder to always read the fine print.

Find more of our coverage on investing here.

Our Ad Alerts are not just about false and deceptive marketing issues, but may also be about ads that, although not necessarily deceptive, should be viewed with caution. Ad Alerts can also be about single issues and may not include a comprehensive list of all marketing issues relating to the brand discussed.

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