Investors say 'fake' experts on local radio shows conned...

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Investors say 'fake' experts on local radio shows conned...

Postby radiofan » Sun Feb 17, 2019 9:13 pm

Investors say 'fake' experts on local radio shows conned them out of millions

Broadcasters say they pulled fraudsters from airways immediately after becoming aware of concerns

Rosa Marchitelli, Ana Komnenic · CBC News · Posted: Feb 17, 2019 8:00 PM ET

Dozens of investors in Ontario say they were conned out of millions of dollars after fraudsters using fake names were featured as investment "experts" on their favourite radio stations — on shows they say sounded like news but were actually infomercials.

"I trusted what I was hearing on the radio," said Tracey Conrad, who lost $15,000 after listening to the so-called financial experts on a popular Global News radio show in her hometown of London, Ont.

The supposed foreign exchange experts were regularly featured on at least five local radio stations — owned by Corus Entertainment and Bell Media — that ran in southern Ontario between 2016 and part of 2017.

During the segments, the "experts" would often call into the radio shows from locations like London, U.K., to give financial advice, encouraging listeners to invest in what they claimed was a reputable foreign exchange investment company: Trans-Atlantic Direct.

Conrad said she "couldn't breathe" after getting a letter in August from her provincial securities regulator, notifying her that the men she'd listened to on the radio — regularly being interviewed by her favourite on-air personalities — are being investigated for operating what's believed to be a "fraudulent enterprise" that was "promoted on local radio programs."

"At first, I didn't even believe the letter," said Conrad.

The case highlights the increasingly blurred line between programs that sound like news but are actually paid advertising, and how disclaimers often do little to inform audiences of the difference, says media ethicist Stephen Ward.

"The whole area of paid content is an ethical quagmire … Cases where it's blurred cause false stories," he said.

By the time the so-called experts were pulled off the air, Canadian investors were out more than $6 million, according to a class-action lawsuit filed against the fraudsters, their companies and Corus Entertainment. Corus owns the Global News radio stations that featured the so-called experts on segments titled "Ask the Experts" and "The Global Market."

Corus says it pulled the programs as soon as it heard about the concerns.

The class action was filed on Jan. 22. The allegations haven't been proven.

Read the full story here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/radio- ... -1.5015962
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