A few years ago, I spotlighted Zsa Zsa Gabor as a surprising source of investing insights. Now I'm having second thoughts.

Gabor, who's now almost 92, is in the news again. Why? Well, there's a summary of the situation on a website in her native Hungary, and although it reads like Greek to me, one word in particular stands out ... Madoff. Yes, Zsa Zsa's one of the many customers apparently duped by Bernie Madoff.

Avoiding scams
The glamorous Ms. Gabor has my sympathy, as do all of Madoff's victims. They were swindled, plain and simple. Still, some of them might have suffered less if they'd followed some basic investing rules. For example:

Diversify!
I'm not suggesting you should own hundreds of stocks. Heck, even eight might be enough, as long as they're distributed among different industries and maybe even a few different countries. It appears that many Madoff victims left the lion's share of their wealth in his hands. That's always risky, no matter how much you trust someone.

Tend to your asset allocation
If you have decades to retirement, you might want to be 100% in stocks, as they tend to grow fastest over the long haul. If you have only a few years, you might want to keep some money in bonds. Considering that Gabor is in her 90s, she might do well to keep a chunk of her money in conservative income-producing dividend payers. Here are some contenders -- companies with dividend yields above 3%:

Company

Recent dividend yield

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY)

5.5%

ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT)

5.1%

Consolidated Edison (NYSE:ED)

5.7%

Kraft Foods (NYSE:KFT)

4.4%

Titanium Metals (NYSE:TIE)

3.9%

Sysco (NYSE:SYY)

4.0%

Spectra Energy (NYSE:SE)

6.8%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS.

A free, no-obligation trial of our Motley Fool Income Investor service will give you dozens of researched recommendations, many yielding 8% or more.

Be skeptical
Finally, Gabor and others should have been wary of Madoff's relatively consistent returns. Know that the stock market has always gone up over the long haul -- but as we were reminded sharply in 2008, it can swing wildly from year to year.

Don't wait until you're 92 to brush up on your investing basics. They're your best defense against swindles, scams, and other Wall Street dangers.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. Sysco, Spectra Energy, and Kraft Foods are Motley Fool Income Investor selections. Titanium Metals is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Try our investing newsletters free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.