In an effort to raise fraud awareness among Albertans, the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) has launched a new board game that immerses players in the world of investment fraud.
In Kajillionaire, players put their life savings at risk as they navigate a gauntlet of can’t-mess, low-risk investment opportunities. Bringing attention to scams that common Albertans are faced with, the game is now being promoted on the ASC’s investor education website, CheckFirst.ca.
“While our financial literacy efforts are year-round, we always heighten our focus in March to drive home the risks surrounding investment fraud and easy ways to protect yourself in a unique and memorable way,” said Alison Trollope, director of Communications and Investor Education with the ASC. “Kajillionaire, the board game at the centre of this year's campaign, uses the resurgent interest in board games to educate Albertans on how to recognize potentially fraudulent investments and make wise investment decisions.”
The can’t-miss investments and money-making opportunities presented throughout the game are designed to tap into psychological factors behind decision-making, making players realize the appeal of scams and why people fall prey to them. The ASC created the game in consultation with Dr. Derek Chapman, professor of Psychology from the University of Calgary, in order to ensure that the psychology of decision-making laid out in the game had an accurate foundation.
“My research at the University of Calgary examines various decision-making processes such as persuasion, personality and attitude formation,” Chapman said. “The psychological factors that play a role in fraud are very similar, impacting an individual's decision-making process and playing a large role in whether or not they fall for a scam.”
The game begins with each player owning $184,000 in life savings, which a recent survey showed was the average amount Canadians said they have set aside for retirement. As they compete to win the game, players will encounter potential scams including affinity fraud, Ponzi schemes, pump-and-dump scams, fake celebrity endorsements, and more. As the game continues, players will learn to recognize the red flags associated with fraud. The player who gets through with the largest portion of savings intact is declared the winner.
In its 2018 Investors Study, the ASC found that only a third of Albertans who suspected fraud told the authorities about it. Among those who think they may have been victimized, one in four said they lost between $5,000 and $25,000. To drive the point home, the game was launched with a $25,000 faux price point, making it “one of the world’s most expensive board games.
“Kajillionaire helps educate players on how important it is to 'check first' before investing,” Trollope said. “Checking registration, researching the investment and looking for the red flags of fraud are the best ways to determine if an investment opportunity is real before handing over your hard-earned money.”
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