WMU News

When looking for startup funding, avoid the scam artists

March 27, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Starting a business usually requires a shot of unbridled passion and enthusiasm, but that gusto can be dangerous if it blinds an entrepreneur to financing scams, according to an FBI agent slated to speak at a Western Michigan University presentation Thursday, April 4.

FBI Senior Resident Agent Jerry Alexander will present "The Art of the Con: Avoiding Financing Scams When Starting or Expanding a Business" from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Federal Room of the Kalamazoo County Chamber of Commerce building, 346 W. Michigan Ave. The program, part of a monthly series of workshops offered by WMU's Women's Business Development Center, is free and open to the public.

During his talk, Alexander will discuss warning signals that indicate a purported lender or investor may be a scam artist; questions to ask and steps to take before signing a contract; how to verify someone identity and credibility; state and federal laws that protect entrepreneurs; and what to do if you have been conned.

"This may be the one instance where an entrepreneur's passion can work against her," says Alexander. "There are criminals posing as investors or lenders who are just waiting to prey on people who are desperate to get a business off the ground. These guys are really smooth, and no one should assume they could spot them instinctively. Especially if you've signed something, it's hard for an entrepreneur to recoup a loss after the fact. The best approach is to do your homework and never get suckered in."

Alexander has worked for the FBI in Southwest Michigan for more than 25 years. One of his investigative specialties is white collar crime, including advanced fee schemes, telemarketing fraud, counterfeit check scams and investment schemes.

WMU's Haworth College of Business established the Women's Business Development Center in 1999 to offer support to female professionals and entrepreneurs by providing training, problem-solving consultation, current business information and networking opportunities.

Reservations are required. For more information or to reserve a seat, contact WBDC Director Pat Guenther at (269) 387-2714 or <patricia.guenther@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Jessica English, 269 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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