Podcast Producer Moira Donovan Helps Shine a Light on Investment Fraud
Investment fraud is frequently in the news, but for me, the true impact only fully sunk in when producing Money Smart Manitoba’s Time to Call Out Fraud Podcast.
Hearing from victims and experts first hand helped me see how being targeted by fraud affects people’s lives: it causes people to feel shame, weakens their sense of trust in the world, and makes them isolate themselves from their friends and family.
Despite this profound impact, investment fraud operates in the shadows. Its perpetrators are constantly changing tactics, those victimized are often reluctant to speak out, and perhaps most importantly, it’s all too easy for those unaffected to think of investment fraud as something that happens to other people. That is why this podcast—which represents a rare chance to shine a light into some of those shadows—is such a valuable educational tool. Below are a few insights I learned from working on the show.
Investment Fraud Can Happen to You
Investment fraud is something to which everyone is vulnerable, from young people at the outset of adulthood, to older adults and experienced investors who know their way around the stock market. When I heard the audio of scammers making their pitch, it was clear why even savvy investors get caught up: scammers are remarkably convincing, and their websites, apps and other promotional tactics look very real.
Fraudsters Prey on Vulnerabilities
On the other end of the spectrum, I heard from people who chose to invest in what seemed like a legitimate opportunity—despite some warning signs—because of very common concerns, like wanting to pay off a mortgage, or looking to secure more money to help with the costs of having children. All of these come together to create vulnerabilities, and opening up about those vulnerabilities is one important way of reducing the risk. That’s the discussion we hoped to initiate with the series.
Being a Victim of Fraud is Stigmatizing
The experiences of the victims that we interviewed underscored why many people don’t feel comfortable talking about being defrauded: even these victims, who were courageous enough to share their stories, reported feeling ashamed by what had happened to them. This makes it hard to talk about, and as we heard, people hide their experiences from their loved ones, and are even sometimes reluctant to acknowledge that they had been caught up in a scam in the first place—which in turn leads to more fraud. The solution is to break that silence.
To create the Calling Out Fraud podcast, we had victims speak to experts in the field or directly to the Manitoba Securities Commission. It was clear from these victims that sharing their stories was an important part of making something meaningful out of their difficult experience. But getting to that point involved trust: first, that institutions like the Manitoba Securities Commission were there to help them, and second, that by telling their stories, they could protect other people from falling victim to investment fraud. With this podcast—which provides a unique sonic window onto how fraud operates—we leveraged that trust to shine a spotlight on this shadowy phenomenon.
~ Moira Donovan is a journalist and audio producer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She’s produced work for CBC shows such as IDEAS, The Doc Project and Quirks & Quarks, and has written for outlets including Hakai Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Walrus.