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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Belongs in the libraries of all investors everywhere
Back in 1999 and 2000, I participated in an online chat room dedicated to technology and technology stocks. It was a boom time for these companies, and the ease with which their investment recommendations and suggestions rose in price made participants feel empowered. "Who needs Wall Street?," they argued. Analysts were disparaged as "analists" and Wall St excoriated for...
Published on October 1, 2011 by David M. Gordon

versus
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars blah
Thought I'd learn something from reading this book, and maybe some people will. I'm not one of them. It seemed to talk down to its audience a bit as well.
Published on January 27, 2013 by Redsfann64


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Belongs in the libraries of all investors everywhere, October 1, 2011
Back in 1999 and 2000, I participated in an online chat room dedicated to technology and technology stocks. It was a boom time for these companies, and the ease with which their investment recommendations and suggestions rose in price made participants feel empowered. "Who needs Wall Street?," they argued. Analysts were disparaged as "analists" and Wall St excoriated for its clueless and bumbling nature.

"Empowered," they claimed; I argued otherwise. Investing done with no due diligence raises Damocles' sword over their (and your) untested, unseasoned portfolios. My efforts were futile; the party in full swing. We all know what happened next.

"Due diligence" is a term used often; unfortunately, it means different things to different people. I argue that due diligence performed by and for investors is not bounded by what and when to buy, but should you buy. And under what conditions should you sell? You must know, in advance, why you bought what you own, else run the risk of a market's wrath (aka, a bear market) - wondering suddenly whether you should buy (more), hold, or sell. (And flee as fast as possible.)

Pat Huddleston is an attorney, former Enforcement Branch Chief for the SEC, and founder/CEO of Investor's Watchdog, a company that conducts fraud investigations for pension funds, endowments, family offices, and individual investors. And now author of the new book, The Vigilant Investor. Pat adds a deeper layer of meaning and intent to the term, due diligence: to protect your portfolio, your life's savings, and you from investment scams and scammers, and even yourself. In story after story, Pat discusses the cons and tricks of which you should be wary, the typical profile of the con artists (they share similar lifestyles and types), and how your own sensibilities and personality helps make you susceptible; prey to their predatory nature. Pat states unequivocally,

"I know how scams and unethical advisers begin, how they operate, what contributes to their longevity, and what tactics they use to ensnare individual and institutional investors alike."

In one story after another another, Pat tells - often with colorful prose rich in its clever use of analogies, metaphors, and similes - of how investors have been bilked of their savings, how they continue to be bilked, and likely will be bilked into perpetuity. I am reminded of an aphorism from the 1970s re limited partnerships, "At inception, the general partner has the vision, the limited partners the money; at the end, the general partner has the money, the limited partners the vision."

Not on Pat's watch, though. After each chapter, he provides checklists that help the reader and investor avoid the emotional weaknesses or scams Pat discusses in the prior pages. And, at book's closing, Pat even suggests creating and fostering associations (or networks) of vigilant investors (AVIs, in Pat's abbreviation) that could communicate and inform each other; an InterPol of sorts but of/for/by investors.

Until then, Pat shares many lessons applicable for all investors:
* Trust, sure, but always verify, verify, verify. And verify the verifiers!
* Steer well clear of charlatanry.
* Watch out for conflicts of interest.
* Do not chase return or yield.
* Create a paper trail of all communication, complaints included.
* Learn that high pressure sales tactics are near synonymous with guaranteed loss of principal. (And principles.)
* And many, many more such facts and hints to avoid scamsters.

Your increasing portfolio value has you feeling empowered? Never forget the process of due diligence: why you buy what you buy, when you buy it, who sells it to you, and why they sell it. (If the investment's destiny is for an increased value, then why sell it now, to you...?)

Pat Huddleston's, The Vigilant Investor, belongs in the libraries of all investors everywhere. Not just filed away as a reference and resource, but read and read again; pages bookmarked, sections highlighted, the book readily available. Pages 12-16 alone, in which Pat recounts the tale of the "Geritol Gang," are worth the price of admission. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plan to Retire?, October 6, 2011
This isn't the type of book I would typically read- honestly, I just didn't think it would apply to me- I'm young, don't have a lot of extra money, and wouldn't consider myself an "investor". But I couldn't have been more wrong. It did apply to me, and the way it is written kept me intrigued through the whole thing. I recommend this book to anyone who ever hopes to retire some day.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Vigilant Investor is a timely and insightful must read, September 26, 2011
We all know people who have fallen prey to either the specious representations of financial fraudsters and scammers, or the reckless and deceitful practices of self-serving investment advisors and brokers. The Vigilant Investor is a well-reasoned, compelling and easily understood treatise on how to identify and avoid the machinations of unscrupulous individuals and entities intent on separating investors from their money. Full of gut wrenching accounts of the perils of misplaced trust, VI provides sound strategies and tools that can help to keep unsuspecting investors out of harm's way. Pat clearly knows what he's talking about, and the practical wisdom in this book is a testament to the depth and diversity of his years of hands-on experience as a champion of investor protections and rights. The Vigilant Investor is a must read for anyone who wants to invest, but wants to do it wisely.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Protect Your Money from Investment Fraud, February 11, 2012
Investment fraud is a growing problem and The Vigilant Investor wants you, the next potential victim, to know how the fraudulent advisor or broker operates, how he/she markets financial services, and how these individuals use specific selling techniques to hook investors into saying yes, often without even realizing it. Written by a former employee of the SEC, this book is all about proactive protection: Knowing how financial scam artists operate so that you don't become their next victim.

Large scale investment rip-offs receive loads of media coverage due to their size and the amount of money swindled, but as this book points out, there are plenty of other, lessor- known scams in the making at any moment and it is up to each one of us to stay informed, recognize the tricks of the trade, and keep our guard held high. No one is immune from investment fraud and those who commit these crimes will gladly accept large sums of money from a few investors or small amounts from many. Thus, we all need to be alert to these scams and this book provides many of the tools necessary to help investors spot some of the more common scams and protect themselves from the smooth talking financial salesman who is ready to rope in anyone he can with promises of great investment returns with little or no risk.

I like the advice offered in The Vigilant Investor and as I read this book, it reminded me of my own experience with a fraudulent brokerage firm back in the 1990's. I didn't invest enough to matter and I eventually got most of my money back once the company's fraud was uncovered and it was shut down and forced to liquidate. Fortunately for me, my investment was small and I was young, so even if I hadn't received back any of my money, it wouldn't have mattered much to me at all. But the same cannot be said for the thousands of investors who find a large percentage of their investment portfolios going up in smoke thanks to the underhanded tactics of financial fraud. The author, through his professional time spent with the SEC, has learned many valuable lessons about these hucksters and their tricks and he shares many of them in the pages of this book. Losing one's retirement nest egg would be a tragic event to be sure, and the book emphasizes over and over again how you must take action to make sure no one steals your retirement funds.

This book offers great advice and among its many strengths are its examples and anecdotes. Not only do you get to read about individuals who were taken in by a smooth talking financial salesperson, you also get to read about investment advisory firms and others that seem so sweet and legitimate at first, only to be uncovered later on as fraudulent operations. Along with the anecdotes, this book is also eminently readable, thanks to great writing, flawless editing, and its humor. Yes, investment fraud is a serious subject and no laughing matter, but I like that the author adds a dose of humor here and there because it makes the book more readable. The author breaks up the serious tone from time to time with a funny quip, humorous metaphor, hilarious (and often very accurate) comparison, etc. This keeps the reading from getting too bogged down and depressing, while still maintaining its sense of urgency.

Investment fraud is a serious concern and the Vigilant Investor wants you, the trusting investor, to be on guard against these scam artists who want nothing more than to get you to write a check for a large sum of money that you may never see again. This book teaches that, regardless of how much you invest, you should treat every investment opportunity with a broker as a relationship that could potentially turn bad. It's better to be safe than sorry, and the Vigilant Investor wants you to keep yourself and your money away from the greedy grasp of investment con artists before it is too late.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What you need to know to avoid investment scams, January 28, 2012
"The Vigilant Investor" teaches you how to avoid investment scams. It covers the cognitive biases that prevent you from detecting them, outlines the common categories of fraud, describes the types of criminals who perpetrate them, and identifies some of the most vulnerable types of victims.

The information is presented in a straight-forward, easy-to-understand manner and each chapter has a recap of the most important points. All of the concepts and terminology are explained in layman's terms and the level of detail given about the particular schemes presented is appropriate to the purpose.

Besides a lot of facts, there is a bit of humor, too: the book gives the convicted fraudsters' prisoner identification numbers, the name and location of the facilities where they are serving their sentences, and when they will likely be released.

Investment fraud isn't just limited to the big cases involving very wealthy people that make the front page of the newspapers. There are plenty of smaller scams that occur daily such as inappropriate sales of annuities and stock churning. I knew someone who was sold a tax-deferred annuity within a tax-deferred retirement account by an investment advisor at a branch of a national bank and this book confirmed my suspicion that this inappropriate action was likely due to the sales commission involved.

The description of how a broker starts churning a brokerage account was especially interesting. The text goes on to explain why you must take immediate action when that first unauthorized transaction occurs regardless of your relationship with your broker and gives a scenario of how events will likely play out in court if you do not. This one bit of advice alone makes it worthwhile to read the entire book.

"The Vigilant Investor" is not for readers interested in the minutiae of complicated accounting tricks nor is it for those fascinated by the passementerie on $6,000 shower curtains. Instead, it is a very useful manual on how to avoid becoming a victim of investment fraud and I very highly recommend reading it. If you think you are too smart or sophisticated to be scammed, you need to read it twice.

A copy of this book was provided for review by the publisher.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read For Any Investor, November 14, 2011
Author: Pat Huddleston
ISBN: 13: 978-0-8144-1750-8: 10: 0-8144-1750-7
Publisher: Amacom

You have to sit up and take notice when a former Security Exchange Commission enforcer and a court appointed Receiver, as well as an investment attorney writes about proof-protecting your investments. The author that can rightfully claim to all of these qualifications is Pat Huddleston who now holds down the position of CEO of Investor's Watchdog LLC, a fraud prevention due diligence company.

As he points out in the introduction to his The Vigilant Investor: A Former SEC Enforcer Reveals How to Fraud Proof Your Investments, Huddleston closed down his law practice after experiencing numerous heartbreaking occasions where his clients were defrauded by unscrupulous and dishonest investment advisers that peddled scams and "garbage" investment products. He decided that it was time to do something about this which is costing individuals their life savings or a good portion of it. The result was the creation of the Investor's Watchdog LLC - a database that holds information on stockbrokers, investment advisers, scam artists nationwide, thousands of customer complaints that had been expunged from stockbrokers' official regulatory rap sheets(not because the brokers were exonerated, but because they made this a condition of settlement with victims), and actions against unregistered salespeople. From gathering all this information, Huddleston gained a great deal of experience in recognizing scams and reckless brokers who feast on your savings. It is this information that he shares with his readers in The Vigilant Investor so as to equip them with the tools necessary to likewise be able to uncover the rotten apples in the barrel and avoid losing their hard earned money.

Basically, the book emphasizes vigilant investing and that every vigilant investor makes prevention his or her first priority. Organizing itself into two sections, the book first explores the wide world of fraud and what to watch out for in protecting your investments and the second delves into the players in the investment industry. Some of the topics examined include the deficiencies of the regulatory agencies, the scam artists ("Anyone who encounters an investment scamster is likely to encounter an equally powerful illusion") , pump and dump schemes, the psychology of manipulation, performing due diligence concerning the people behind the proposed investments as well as the investment itself, checking the credentials and qualifications of the people selling an investment product, understanding what you are investing in, looking for conflicts of interest, questioning how the investment earns profits, carefully scrutinizing increased trading volume and rising stock prices, understanding the FDIC, checking on patent claims, understanding variable annuities, knowing how the compliance system works and how the industry protections brokers, boiler room cold calls, free offering of lunch or dinner, dirty little secrets of the investment industry, and a host of other timely topics.

What appeals to me about this 238-page book is Huddleston's straight forward language as he explains what it is to be a vigilant investor and the multitude of pitfalls that an investor can fall prey to if he or she ignores the basic principles of cautious investing. I would be hard pressed to find another book that is as extensive and loaded with so many insightful examples concerning the day-to-day reality of the investment world and the many sharks that think nothing of eating up your money with little attention to ethics or honest behavior.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forewarned is forearmed., October 28, 2011
We all know about the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA, the organization of state security regulators, has a top ten list also. Every year they compile a list of the Top Ten Investor Traps.

But neither the Feds or the States have the manpower and resources to get to all of the $40 billion a year that the FBI says investors lose to fraud. In other words, watch out, you're on your own.

So how do you go about protecting yourself? Educate yourself, and here's an excellent starting point.

It's Pat Huddleston's recently published book, THE VIGILANT INVESTOR: A Former SEC Enforcer Reveals How To Fraud Proof-Your Investments. Pat's experience and expertise has resulted in a book from which investors can learn how to better protect themselves. He uses real stories and provides checklists in his book organized in two easily readable sections:

PART 1: The Wide World of Fraud: First Steps and Advanced Tactics on the Path to Vigilant Investing
PART 2: The Securities Industry: Hunting the Wolf with the Million-Dollar Smile

Forewarned is forearmed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Terrifying Tales of Fraud from an SEC Enforcer", November 11, 2011
What a fun (and sobering) read! The author obviously has been in the trenches and seen it all. Definitely knows his stuff. I feel like this book could have been called "Terrifying Tales of Fraud and Expert Tips on How To Avoid Financial Cons." Didn't expect it to be so entertaining for a non-fiction book. It was a really fun read. Felt like I was educated and entertained at the same time. I have read a lot of great reviews of The Vigilant Investor on the book's web site thevigilantinvestor.com. Looks like some big names in the financial and investing world have given it two thumbs up. I agree completely!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book and a must read!, October 7, 2011
This book is a must read for anyone who is investing, or looking to invest. It offers an eye-opening insight into the world of investment fraud. No one is too smart, and if you think you aren't gullible, think twice. Pat Huddleston hits you hard with the facts. If you think this couldn't happen to you, he gives you the truth. It can happen to anyone! But the author gives you the tools to make sure you are able to protect your hard earned money. This book is a good and quick read, interlaced with unbelievable fraud schemes that left victims helpless. Don't be a victim! Read this book and apply the tools he gives you to protect your money!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great advice from a true expert in the field, October 7, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This book is packed with great advice for how to protect your hard earned nest egg. Mr. Huddleston uses real life case examples to clearly illustrate how to spot the scamsters, and more importantly, how to avoid them altogether. You will probably be scared witless (as I was), to learn how resourceful the bad guys can be, but thank God for people like Pat who are so committed to protecting the honest investors. Very well written -I recommed this book to everyone!!
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The Vigilant Investor: A Former SEC Enforcer Reveals How to Fraud-Proof Your Investments
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