Free Lunch Monitor Report: From the Trenches

Len Bach and his wife are serious about fraud. Serious about making sure that it doesn’t happen to you, or anyone you know! Here’s a guest blog from Len about his experience as a Free Lunch Monitor:
As longtime AARP Volunteers who make formal presentations on general investment fraud(s), getting involved in the Free Lunch Monitor (FLM) program was quite natural for my wife and me. We are also recent retirees concerned about protecting and growing our retirement savings that took a lifetime to build. A free meal and possibly finding new trustworthy avenues for investment or retirement planning was quite appealing.
We have found that the Free Lunch offers share a number of common traits such as good food and soft sales pitches, but also almost always trade on senior fears about estate issues, medical catastrophes, running out of money, probate, legal and IRS concerns. The sponsors want you to leave the meal site worried about your future. We always follow up with the firms with a second meeting and that is where we have found the hitch in almost every pitch. High commission recommendations abound on legitimate investments, outlandish promises of high returns and low risk are frequent without any formal prospectus being presented, suitability to your specific needs are most often ignored, and fine print in offered agreements can subject you to severe penalties and to unreasonable flexibility.
My wife and I will continue to voluntarily attend these free meal senior sales pitches and to report our findings to AARP and recommend that others do as well. A good free meal is rewarding, but it is uncovering fraud and abuse that we have discovered to be the real dividend for our time and effort.