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Investment seminars targeting the elderly?

The Utah Division of Securities has announced that a national study indicates that senior citizens are the target of most "free lunch" investment seminars.

A yearlong investigation into 110 securities firms that sponsored senior sales seminars and free lunches discovered that all of the so-called educational "seminars" were sales presentations, 59 percent reflected weak supervisory practices by securities firms, half featured exaggerated or misleading advertising claims, 23 percent involved suspected unsuitable recommendations to attendees and 13 percent appeared to be fraudulent and have been referred to state regulators for enforcement or disciplinary action.

The investigation was conducted by the Securities Exchange Commission, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and state securities regulators from the North American Securities Administrators Association.

The study also found that 78 percent of senior citizens have received at least one free lunch seminar invitation and 60 percent or more have received at least six invitations in the past three years.

The Utah division will have an exhibitor's booth at the Senior Expo at the South Towne Exposition Center in Sandy on Friday and Saturday. Division employees will be handing out tips on how to avoid investment fraud and explaining how to use the division's services to find out whether stockbrokers, investment advisers or investments are registered with the state.