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Complex Investments Prove Risky as Savers Chase Bigger Payoff

"Regulators across the country are confronting a wave of investor fraud that is saddling retirement savers with steep losses on complex products that until a few years ago were pitched only to the most sophisticated investors.

"The victims are among the millions of Americans whose mutual funds and stock portfolios plummeted in the wake of the financial crisis, and who started searching for ways to make better returns than those being offered by bank deposits and government bonds with minuscule interest rates.

"Tens of thousands of them put money into speculative bets promoted by aggressive financial advisers. The investments include private loans to young companies like television production firms and shares in bundles of commercial real estate properties.

"Those alternative investments have now had time to go sour in big numbers, state and federal securities regulators say, and are making up a majority of complaints and prosecutions."

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