As investment schemes and market technology become more sophisticated, so do the fraudsters looking for scam victims. Falling into the trap of a criminal con artist can be a crippling financial nightmare. So if the performance claims of an investment scheme sound too good to be true, chances are they might be. Hundreds of Americans each year fall victim to price manipulation, theft, insider trading, Ponzi Schemes, sales of unregistered securities or misrepresented investments. So if you have been the victim fraudulent criminals, what are the chances of getting your money back? The good news is that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has just issued an investor bulletin to help consumers fight back against scams. The bad news is that the process is a lengthy one and you'll probably only get a small portion of your money back. If an SEC fraud investigation is successful, the next steps will be taken through the court system. But the SEC or the court generally charges penalties and interest on the proceeds of criminal collections. The Securities Investor Protection Corporation will cover some cash and lost assets if a registered brokerage firm fails, but they don't protect your assets from market loss. Investors can seek compensation under federal bankruptcy laws or private law suits. But to avoid getting burned by fraudsters at all, don't part with your money unless you've done your research.