VCC – Red Flags for Private Issuers – How to Identify a Scammer

Venture Capital Cross – 6/2/2024 — It takes all kinds to make the world go round, they say.  We encounter all of the above being in the financial services business.  The reason we like late stage secondaries as our legacy go to market is because of the credibility of the assets, they are companies that have $1 Billion + valuations and have already proven themselves to the market.  However, the real value is in catching the next big thing at an early stage, and herein lies the dilemma.  Investors are not sure which one is going to be the next big thing (i.e. Google, Amazon) and which one is going to totally fail.  And to be fair to issuers, they don’t know too.

We have compiled a short list of ‘red flags’ to look for, these are not by themselves an indication of a bad deal, but overall, these are things you want to be aware of when evaluating earlier stage opportunities.

Red Flags – signs of a bad deal

1. The principal refuses to show any due diligence
2. Insists on meeting in person
3. Does not have a public profile, media following
4. Does not have a lawyer
5. High Returns “Too good to be true”
6. Has lots of stories, but lacks documentation to back them up
7. Is not registered (this by itself isn’t proof that it’s a scam, but many legitimate fund managers and investment bankers ARE registered)
8. Uses words like “Arbitrage” and “Bank Guarantee” and “Insurance”
9. Explains the investment has “No Risk” (Any investment has risk, even Arbitrage has risk)
10. Is private, confidential person
11. Looking for in person referrals
12. Signs of time deadline / hurry
13. Operates from a dark jurisdiction i.e. Seychelles, Argentina, etc.
14. Uses big names “I got into this because of Bill Gates”

Signs of a Scammer

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