Con artists are targeting the life savings of baby boomers and older seniors in a wave of investment scams. State securities regulators are reporting a surge of investment fraud against investors ages 50 and older, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association, a voluntary association of state securities agencies responsible for grass-roots investor protection.

Seniors are the segment of the population that have managed to save and accrue the most investments. Crooks and hucksters follow the money and seniors have had a lifetime to accrue investments and funds. State securities regulators expect the surge in fraud targeting investors ages 50 and older to continue. With more than 76 million baby boomers approaching retirement age, con artists have a large pool of potential targets. The oldest baby boomers turned 65 in 2011.

Unregistered securities in the form of promissory notes, private offerings or investment contracts are the most common product used in senior abuse cases. Senior abuse cases involving unregistered securities outnumber cases involving "traditional securities" by 5 to 1. Most of the fraud is conducted by people who don't have proper licensing and sell unregistered securities.

Other types of investment scams include affinity fraud, where con artists infiltrate a senior club or organization, create a bond with seniors and then pitch a fraudulent investment. Affinity fraud is a big issue that crops up quite a bit in church groups, senior centers, social networking and veterans associations. Con artists will befriend the leader of a group or organization and they may pay off a couple of "initial investors" within the group. These initial investors will often help to promote the scam to other friends in the group or organization.

Fraud at free-lunch or free-dinner seminars targeting seniors is on the rise, with state securities regulators reporting three times as many fraud cases involving these events in 2010, compared with 2009. Many free-lunch and free-dinner seminars are marketing tools used by legitimate investment professionals selling legitimate investments. But some of these events are outright investment scams run by con artists. The best way to guard against fraud is to check out the credentials of the person running the free-lunch or free-dinner seminar.

A telltale sign of an investment scam is a high-pressure sales pitch urging investors to act immediately. Don't be fooled. "You have to act today. It won't be here tomorrow." That's the close for almost every scam. A legitimate investment will be there tomorrow, next week and next month. Another sign of investment fraud is the promise of too-good-to-be true returns. Fraudulent pitches offer a promise of risk-free investments or low-risk, high-return investments. That should be a warning sign.

Before investing check to see if an investment professional is licensed in your state. Your state securities regulator can tell you whether an investment is registered and if a broker or a broker's firm has a disciplinary history. You also can check the disciplinary history of brokers and investment advisers by using online databases at SEC.gov and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, website. Check before you invest.

Thanks for help

This year, 2012, is the 40th anniversary of Meals on Wheels in Garden City. Many thanks to the Knights of St. Mary's volunteers and Duane Riley who delivered Meals on Wheels last week.

Are you interested in helping with Meals on Wheels? Substitute drivers are always needed. If you would like to help, call Patti at 272-3620 or 260-6282.

Scheduled activities

Thursday, the TOPS Club will meet at 9 a.m., followed by art class at 10 a.m. Gentle exercise begins at 11 a.m. The Ambassador Singers practice at 1 p.m. The Domino Tournament begins at 1 p.m. Yoga begins at 6:30 p.m.

Friday begins with line dancing at 8:30 a.m. A nurse from St. Catherine Hospital will be here from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. At 11:30 a.m., we will hear from Dr. Terry Hunsberger speaking on skin cancers. Bridge starts at 12:45 p.m. Join us for the Life Story Workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. with June and Charley Kempthorne. Reserve your seat by calling 272-3620. The covered dish dinner begins at 6 p.m. Entertainment is the ABC Band playing country music.

Saturday, the pool room is open from 1 to 4 p.m.

Sunday is Grandparent Day. Duplicate bridge meets at 2 p.m.

Monday begins with walking at 8:30 a.m. Call Hope at 272-3620 for the location. The Humdinger Band will meet at 12:30 p.m. Double pinochle starts at 12:30 p.m. Zumba Gold begins the fall session at 5:30 p.m. Zumba Gold will meet Mondays and Thursdays for six weeks. Duplicate bridge meets at 7 p.m. The kitchen shower continues all this week.

Tuesday has the Craft Shop Board meeting at 10 a.m. Gentle exercises meet at 11 a.m. Pitch starts at 12:30 p.m. Bridge begins at 1:15 p.m. "Back to School for Seniors" meets at 5:30 p.m. and will features Alli Burns, Finney County Extension and SHICK counselor, speaking on Medicare Parts A and B. Call 272-3620 to reserve your seat. Alli will be back again next week to cover Medicare supplements, advantage plans and the drug plans. Class runs from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Call 272-3620 for more information on this or any other class.

Sept. 12 has line dancing at 8:30 a.m. Outreach from the Finney County Public Library is at 11 a.m. Pinochle begins at 12:30 p.m. Completely Unraveled meets at 1 p.m. The regular Wednesday night dance begins at 7:30 p.m. Music is provided by Bob Walters. The recommended donation is $5. Refreshments will be provided by the Finney County Senior Citizens Association.

Lunch menus

Lunch is served at noon.

Thursday: Porcupine meatballs, noodles, broccoli salad, wheat bread, brownie.

Friday ("Lunch with the Doc"): Chuck-wagon steak on a bun, tater tots, applesauce.

Monday: Cheeseburgers, fixins', tri-taters, peaches.

Tuesday: Grilled chicken breast, scalloped potatoes, creamed peas, wheat roll, fruit mix.

Sept. 12: Swiss steak and tomatoes, baked potato, mixed veggies, wheat bread, strawberries.

Check out our website at www.seniorcenterfc.com.