NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
In investing, as in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Nowhere is that more clear than with the latest list of scams used to fleece investors, released Thursday by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).
Ponzi schemes were No. 1 on the list, which was ranked by prevalence and seriousness.
Named for swindler Charles Ponzi, the plans are pyramid schemes that promise to use money from later investors to pay early ones. After the plans collapse, the people who make most of the money are the promoters who set the plan in motion.
Rounding out the top five were investments pushed by unlicensed securities dealers; unregistered investment products; promissory notes; and investment scams that target senior citizens and their life savings.
Internet fraud appeared in the top 10, as well as oil and gas scams.
With oil prices at record highs, regulators warn that con artists will probably dust off old oil ventures, and sell shares in non-existent oil fields and unproven technologies designed to convert common substances into fuel.
While not technically scams, penny stocks, so-called private placements and investment seminars were given "dishonorable" mention.
Investors should contact state regulators with any questions about an investment product, broker or adviser before making an investment, Franklin Widmann, NASAA president and chief of the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, said in a statement.
"One phone call can save a lot of money and heartache," he said.
For more information on how to contact regulators from NASAA's Web site, click here.
For more on personal finance, click here.