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'Free meal' investment seminars are often hard-core sales pitches

At many "free meal" investment seminars offered by shady stockbrokers, you're the catch of the day.

A recent Wall Street Journal investigation uncovered 16 hot spots in the United States that had the highest concentration of stockbrokers with "disciplinary red flags." Long Island was No. 2, trailing only Boca Raton, Florida.

The Journal says many of these brokers troll for prospective clients at free-meal seminars, which are billed as educational but are really hard-core sales pitches. The topics typically are focused on annuities, high-yield investments or buying and selling real estate. Often, the vehicles pitched are too risky or inappropriate for older adults.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a brokerage industry watchdog, has an online tool (nwsdy.li/finra) where you can check stockbrokers' qualifications and whether they have any regulatory red flags.

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