Oil Investment Income Scams
While there are numerous reputable oil and gas operators offering oil investing opportunities there are also an equal number of individuals scamming or defrauding investors offering oil investment scams. Securities regulators warn investors to be wary of the following claims made in typical high-pressure sales pitches, whether through unsolicited telephone calls, email messages, or on internet message boards as they may be oil scams:
- Riskless -There's no risk in the investment.
- Guaranteed - This well is guaranteed to make money.
- Insider information - A geologist gave me this tip.
- New unpublished play -There has been a huge "discovery" in an adjoining field.
- Exclusivity - This deal is open to only a few, unique investors, such as yourself.
- Time is of the Essence - Only a few shares are left so you need to send us money right away to get in on this deal.
State securities regulators advise potential investors not to be afraid to ask the hard questions when solicited for oil and gas investment opportunities. Investors wanting to make oil and gas investments should consider oil exploration and producing companies which are well-established. Minimize the risk of being swindled by resisting pressures to make hurried, uninformed investment decisions. In order to avoid oil scams, consider following these five checkpoints with crude oil investing:
The Registration Requirements
Ask if the offering is filed with the office of the state securities commission in your state or the state in which the promoters are located. If so, contact that agency for any information it may be able to provide. If the promoter claims that the offering is exempt from registration requirements in the particular state in which the offers and sales are made, find out which of the exemptions is claimed and the terms of the exemption.
Contact the state securities agency to confirm that the offering is indeed exempt. If the promoter claims a security is not involved at all, find out why and contact the state securities agency and confirm whether it really is a security being offered.
If it is a legitimate deal, the salesperson will not be reluctant to answer questions or provide written explanations to questions. Ask the name of the person offering you the security, where he is calling from and his background, particularly in other oil or gas ventures. Ask what commission and/or other compensation the salesperson will receive.
Contact your state securities agency to find out if the promoter or salesperson has been sanctioned for previous violations of securities laws to help avoid an oil scam.
Ask the names of the principals of the company or the general partners offering the security, their backgrounds and experience in the oil and gas industry, and how long they have been associated with the company. Find out the history of the company, its capitalization, assets and retained earnings. What contingent liabilities does it have from other ventures? Does it have sufficient funds to cover unexpected costs? Is the tax treatment of the investments, as claimed by the promoters, supported by the Internal Revenue Service?
To avoid oil investment income scams, find out the company's or general partners' history in drilling operations. In particular, ask how long it has been in the oil and gas business, the number of wells drilled, the number of wells completed as producing wells, and whether the company retained its interests in the wells it drilled. Determine if conflicts of interest involving the promoter are disclosed. All the above information should be contained in a prospectus or "offering documents" that the promoter must furnish potential investors before they commit their funds.
Make sure funds raised for the investment are kept in a separate escrow account until used and that they won't be commingled with other funds. Also, be certain the funds will not be used for purposes other than those specified. Ask how much money is to be raised and the cost per fractional interest. Ask how much of the money will pay for advertising, salaries, sales commissions and any estimated profit to the company. Ask what type of conveyance document will be provided after any investment is made.
Assuming the oil gas investing well is completed, ask what the completion costs will be for each investor, including additional commissions to be paid (the purpose and amount), and whether investors may be obligated to pay in more money in the future. Ask what tax incentive might be available if a dry-hole is encountered and for intangible drilling costs. Finally, evaluate the risk involved in making the investment. Is the well to be drilled a wildcat (drilled in territory not known to be productive) or is the drilling to be done in an area of proven oil reserves?
Secure a legal description of the property on which the program is to be drilled. How and when was it acquired? Is the principal selling the lease to the venture at the acquisition cost, and if not, how much profit is being made? Ask for a description of surrounding property, including local well completions and a geologist's report on the area. You will want to know if the lease is already in default and whether there is any overriding royalty or landowner's royalty or other leasehold burden being paid.
Ask for a disclosure of the person(s) selling the lease, the cost of the lease and any relationship between the lessor and the operator. Secure a statement of the depth of the well to be drilled and an indication of when drilling is to begin. Insist on seeing a copy of the operator's contract with the promoter.
The checklist of questions to ask and information to obtain is long and it will take time and perhaps even money invested in outside consultation before you feel comfortable risking your money in the investment. It is always advisable to seek the advice of a neutral expert before committing your funds to any investment deal. Be sure to consider the following questions when considering an oil investment:
- Who will be responsible for payment of taxes? Will they be paid out of the investor's share?
- What is the location of available pipelines, or what method will be used to transport and sell any production?
- What is the name and address of the operator? What is her/his experience with ventures of this nature? What are the terms of the agreement with the operator, including the compensation terms?
- How will the decision be made for completing the well or abandoning it? Who will make that decision? What is to become of funds received from the salvage value of equipment on the lease?
The securities administrator in your state, province or territory is responsible for the protection of investors. If you have questions about an investment, contact your securities administrator. You can locate your securities administrator on NASAA's website at www.nasaa.org. It is a good idea to contact your securities administrator before you invest. Be sure to contact our experts about gas investment tips or other oil and gas business questions. Find out how to invest in oil today!
Oil Investment Scams History
Oil and gas drilling investments carry significantly higher risk than other types of investing for the oil investor. Because of the high risk involved in a drilling investment opportunity, the rate of return can also be significantly higher. These opportunities abound for the sophisticated, well qualified oil investor. Investors should consider their own investment history and should also receive full disclosure of potential oil investment risk factors to avoid oil investment scams. Items to consider should include, but are not limited to, the following to avoid oil investment scams
- Are the wells developmental wells or exploration wells?
- What is the past performance of wells in the area and formation?
- What do the geological and/or engineering reports say?
- How diversified are the oil investments or project?
- What is the bio/experience of the producer(s)/operator(s)?
- How is the oil investment going to be held in the case of working interest?
- Are there warning signs regarding investment fraud?