Financial exploitation is typically associated with groups like the elderly, college students and immigrants—but Native Americans living on reservations are also vulnerable.

Settlements between tribes and the federal government have led to an influx of wealth, but reservations often lack access to financial services, exposing residents to fraud and abuse. “There’s a lot of money coming into historically cash-strapped communities,” says attorney David Armstrong, director of the Indian Law Office at the non-profit Wisconsin Judicare. “There’s a segment of the population that will spend that money immediately, but others will see an influx of money. This is a good time for them to invest, but a lot of these folks don’t know about investment because nobody markets to them.”

In April, Finra and the non-profit First Nations Development Institute issued a joint investor alert, “New Money Coming Into Indian Country: Plan for the Long Term,” warning Native American recipients of new wealth of potential fraud on reservations.

The newest money comes from recent court settlements: In the 1990s, Elouise Cobell, a Blackfoot banker, uncovered mismanagement of native funds held in trust by the federal government, resulting in a $3.4 billion settlement. The first portion of that money compensated for profits from federal logging, grazing and mineral exploration leases. The next $2 billion will buy back interests in the land to reduce fractionalization among native populations.

But this isn’t the first influx of money into Indian Country. “There’s this perception that this is new wealth, but many tribes have been doing well for some time,” says Dante Desiderio, executive director of the Native American Finance Officers Association. “There were previous settlements. There’s been economic development. In many cases, these funds are distributed among members, not held by the government.”

Because land is often commonly held, tribes make payments to members, typically in a monthly check.  “Tribes have to have a law about how they are going to make the payments, and the law has to provide for minors and incompetents,” Armstrong says. “The money builds up in accounts that the tribe manages, and to access the disbursements members have to be 18 years old and have a high school diploma.”

Accrued money is often paid to 18-year-olds as a large lump sum, Armstrong says, and can come with no restrictions. “A check is literally cut and handed to them,” Armstrong explains. “One of the problems is that taxes are not withheld, so they end up running into consequences with the IRS. Families might know to expect the hit, but imagine explaining that to an 18-year-old boy with $300,000 dollars that he didn’t have yesterday.”

Armstrong says that many Native American children have never experienced life without federal payments and assume monthly checks will continue indefinitely. Others, who grow up amid disproportionate poverty, have had no exposure to planning or budgeting.

“People are most likely to access advice from family members, but in some places this is the first generation to have large amounts of money,” says Sarah Dewees, director of research, policy and asset building at the First Nations Development Institute. “Mixing young people with large sums of money is often problematic. Look at the young athletes who end up in bankruptcy and the research that shows lottery winners, on average, end up worse off than before.”

Larry Jones, a financial consultant for San Diego-based Retirement Benefits Group, specializes in developing wealth-building strategies for native tribes. “In many of these cultures, saving for retirement or the near future is not something they strive for,” Jones says. “There’s a sea change among tribal governments in getting people to think about planning and saving, especially because they have funds coming in that they have never had before.”

Armstrong says wealth is also arriving from other sources, including casino gaming, other tourism revenues, agriculture, and mineral and gas exploration. Some tribes pay out more than $100,000 annually to members.

“Baby boomers who left the reservation when they were young or were raised in cities are retiring and moving back to take advantage of benefits like medical care and tax exemptions,” Armstrong says. “These folks return with a portable wealth portfolio that you would expect any retirement-age professional to have.”

On reservations, fraud generally takes the same form as it does in the rest of the country.

“When the first round of Cobell payments came out, payday lenders and pawnshops sprung up overnight,” Armstrong says. “We’re seeing people get creative, offering to help access disbursements through ‘Nigerian Prince’ scams that ask for personal information.”