From: Brad Zigler, Senior Certified Retirement Asset Manager (SCAM)

Subject: Cash out of those CDs. Dump those underperforming mutual funds. The real money is in sports derivatives. Get in on the “ground floor.”

Ed note: From the heart of the Cactus League — with the highest per-capita population of retirees outside Forest Lawn — comes this email scam the SEC must have missed.

Dear Retiree:

We know how important your current income is. Don't waste time with low-yielding CDs. Bolster your retirement nest egg instead with… baseball options!

You only have to play the Spring Training Options Market one month per year. Your 30-day winnings could keep you in cat food and Depends through next winter!

What are options, you ask? Well, options are contracts that offer leveraged rewards as the value of some asset — a stock, a commodity or, in this case, a baseball team — exceeds a certain price level within a given timeframe. Call option prices increase as the value of the underlying asset goes up, while the value of a put option increases as the value of the underlying asset falls.

So what's this about baseball options? Well, our favorite team, the San Francisco Giants, is in the midst of Spring Training in Scottsdale, Ariz. Through the auspices of the Center for Obfuscation on Numerical, Factual and Unavailing Statistical Effluence (CONFUSE) at the University of Arizona, the team's hitting and pitching performance has been reduced to a simple price index that will undoubtedly serve as the basis for the most exciting market since 2004, when St. Louis' Gateway Arch was mortgaged for the “over-under” against the Boston Red Sox.

Here's where you come in. C'mon, you love those Frisco Giants and hate them Yankees? Well, put your money where your mouth is! With the new index, you can make money on the Orange-and-Blacks no matter how they fare in Cactus League play. Are you bullish on the Bayside Boys? Then buying calls is for you. Think the Brobdignagians will tank in the desert? No problem; buy puts instead. There are even ways to make money by wagering down the middle!

How's it all work? It's simple stuff. If a performance index of “100” is the Giants' Cactus League starting point, when the team plays better, the index price moves above the “100” baseline. When they do worse, the index falls below “100.”

Got that? Calculating that index is simpler still:

Step 1: The total number of a team's hits is added to the sum of its bases on balls and hits by pitches. That number is then divided by the team's at-bats plus the sum of its bases on balls, hits by pitches and sacrifice flies.

Step 2: The team's total earned runs are divided by the aggregate innings pitched and multiplied by nine.

Step 3: Step 1's result is divided by Step 2's.

And voila! Step 3 gives you the team's performance index adjustment factor.

At the end of each game, the victor's factor is divided by the loser's. The result is added to the victor's performance index and subtracted from the loser's to arrive at that day's values. What could be easier?

No doubt you're wondering, “How does all this turn into cat food and Depends for me?” Like this: Buying a call with an exercise price of “100” translates to a $100 worth of value for each point above “100” the Giants' index rises by the end of Spring Training. A call with a “102” exercise price likewise offers a C-note for each point above “102” earned. Got that? In a single season, investing in the Giants index might net you a 141 percent gain on your investment! Now why don't we just liquidate some of these bond mutual funds and CDs you've been hanging onto to fund this brilliant retirement strategy.

Why haven't you heard about it until now? Because it's terribly exclusive. But I'm letting you in on this little secret because you deserve a comfortable retirement. Sound good? We'll bet it does. That's why we've got this special baseball index starter kit waiting for you right here. You need to hurry, though. Spring Training will be over before you know it.

After all, who can tell if you'll be around next season?

Sincerely,
Brad Zigler, Senior Certified Retirement Asset Manager (SCAM)