Know your risks with online trading, financial educator advises

Securities expert warns of an increase in crypto-related investment fraud

2 min read
Man wearing glasses stands in front of a powerpoint presentation.
caption David Harrison leads the presentation at Investing 101 in the RBC Learning Centre at the Halifax Central Library.
Raeesa Alibhai

People who lack the knowledge and background in investing are making more mistakes than in the past, says a financial educator.

“Greater access means easier ability to do those trades,” said David Harrison, who manages the investment education and communications branch at the Nova Scotia Securities Commission. “But just because you can do them doesn’t necessarily mean you should be doing them.”

Harrison said about 20 years ago, investing involved speaking with a broker in person or over the phone at the very least. Today, trading is a click away on a smartphone.

For many, the accessibility is convenient. For others, he says it can be dangerous.

Harrison led an information session called Investing 101 at the Halifax Central Library on Thursday evening. Harrison has been offering information sessions at the library since 2021 but, in the past year, he updated the presentation to include a section about crypto assets.

Harrison says there has been a significant increase in crypto-related investment fraud in the last few years, partially because increasing amounts of crypto-related content are available online.

Even though “people don’t know a lot about (crypto schemes), they still think they want to invest in them,” he said.

The federal government warns crypto scammers take advantage of this lack of knowledge, often offering promises of high returns. They frequently use deceptive advertisements on social media or romance scams on dating apps. It also cautions that crypto transactions are irreversible.

“Fraudsters exploit this and then vanish with your money, leaving you with little recourse,” its website states.

Investing basics

Crypto-related fraud is a newer part of this conversation. Still, Harrison says not a lot has changed about the basics of investing. People manage money in various ways, including debt, credit and investing, he said. Many are under the impression you need a lot to begin, but Harrison disagrees.

“You can get started tomorrow with $5.00 if you want,” he said, highlighting that effective investing is about having personal goals and a reasonable timeline.

Nata Kostenko attended the information session to learn more about what Harrison sees as some of the essential components of investing — the basics.

“I came here to listen from a trusted source,” she said.

She said the information was relevant and the language was accessible. Even though she still had questions, Kostenko said she came away with a better idea of what to ask.

“For me, that’s a good outcome,” she said.

Harrison noticed common mistakes in investing can be traced to a lack of knowledge when it comes to the basics. He said people often involve themselves in “unsuitable investments” and neglect their risk tolerance.

According to Harrison, investing is an individual pursuit.

“If you don’t understand something, don’t invest in it,” he said. “Just because one thing is right for one person does not mean it is right for another.”

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About the author

Raeesa Alibhai

Originally from Toronto, Raeesa Alibhai is in her fourth-year of the Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) Program at King's. She is fond of all forms...

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