By Howard Koplowitz
In light of the $50 billion Ponzi scheme allegedly perpetrated by Queens native Bernard Madoff, the shareholders association at North Shore Towers hosted a presentation last Wednesday by a representative from state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office to advise them on how to protect their investments.
Diane Ridley Gatewood, an assistant attorney general and chief of the registration section for the office’s Investor Protection Bureau, advised some 20 shareholders who attended the Jan. 21 meeting to stick to the axiom “If it’s too good to be true, it is.”
Gatewood said the fact that Madoff’s fund was giving investors roughly a 10 percent return while the market was running at about 5 percent should have been a red flag and warned the shareholders to be wary of any similar investment products.
“Rule No. 1 in any type of investment is that they cannot guarantee you a return,” she said.
Any corporation or hedge fund manager that does not give paper statements or a document confirming a transaction is another indication of a scheme, Gatewood said.
“Don’t let anybody take a check from you if you cannot get any type of documentation,” she said, noting that the attorney general’s office routinely gets complaints from potential investment scam victims, but cannot bring a case because there is no proof.
Gatewood also advised shareholders at the Floral Park coâˆ’op to be aware of telemarketers and boiler rooms that use highâˆ’pressure sales tactics to get a prospective client to buy a penny stock.
“Any stock under $7, be wary of,” she said, noting that the only stock to go from below that amount to over $100 a share was Chrysler.
City Councilman James Gennaro (Dâˆ’Fresh Meadows) arranged the meeting between Gatewood and the shareholder’s association, a selfâˆ’described watchdog group that is a separate entity from the coâˆ’op’s board of directors.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by eâˆ’mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718âˆ’229âˆ’0300, Ext. 173.