MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- FOX6's Contact 6 says there are four words to listen for when someone is trying to sell you an investment. One large group of investigators could have saved a million dollars if they had known that those words, in most cases, indicate a scam.
"He convinced them that he was going to make them a ton of money," U.S. Postal Inspector Hope Cerda said.
He is Hector Gallardo -- a U.S. stock broker who targeted investors in Bolivia.
"This individual went down to Bolivia, you know, wined and dined them basically and told them that everything was guaranteed and they can make money on the stock exchange and they just had to send the money and he would take care of everything for you. He told them that they could get basically a rate of return of 18% guaranteed," Cerda said.
300 victims sent Gallardo -- who was born in Argentina -- a little more than a million dollars.
"He was very charismatic. He knows the language. He was able to befriend these people. They were enticed by the fact that he was from South America and that he had made it in the United States so they figured that he could help them make it," Cerda said.
The people who invested with Gallardo were not rich.
"All of them are working class people. They don`t have a lot of money. They were looking to better themselves. They weren`t looking to make millions of dollars, they were just looking to help their families out," Cerda said.
Authorities say Gallardo deposited their money in his own bank account.
"He took the money and went on vacations. He had nice cars, he had a beautiful home. He just spent the money anyway he wanted to make his life better," Cerda said.
The takeaway from this case:
"If someone is guaranteeing you a rate of return that is much higher than you know to be factual, it most likely is a scam," Cerda said.
"Guaranteed rate of return" are four words to listen for -- and when you hear them, run in the other direction.
Gallardo was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison, and ordered to pay almost $900,000 in restitution.