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You may have lost money in your investment portfolio,
due to mismanagement and not even know it.

How easy is it to get fleeced by the sharks? Very easy, indeed.

How do you think you'd feel after sitting through an hour or two of an investment seminar you signed up for and then finding out in quite summary fashion that the whole thing was a purposefully staged fake engaged in to prove a couple fundamental points to you?

Would you feel irate or, alternatively, somehow thankful for your unwitting participation in the exercise?

Government financial regulators from one Canadian province were banking on the latter outcome when they recently hatched a scheme to impart a two-fold lesson to the many people who responded to a seminar invite promising to enrich them "like the experts."

Their initial hope: to let people see clearly "how easy it is [for investment scammers] to appear legitimate" when they hype easy-to-make-money schemes.

And the second desired takeaway: to let potential investors -- even reflective and thoughtful individuals -- understand how easily they can get taken in by wholly fraudulent profit-generating opportunities.

What authorities did was to advertise a seminar that existed only in their minds. The ruse targeted scores of thousands of people, with 48 ultimately registering as the audience for a pitch that promised easy wealth.

And hyped-up assurances were just what they were getting when they were suddenly clued in about halfway through the scam. Regulators admit that the ruse was a bit over the top and having the ready potential to breed some serious collective hostility, but they say that their scheme was worth it to get across the educational message and warning they sought to convey. The "seminar" will now be aired on video to target a truly wide audience.

Regulators say the audience seemed more thankful than put out when they learned the truth, with most attendees soliciting further information on ways to safeguard themselves against investment fraud.

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