Canada’s Manitoba Securities Commission (MSC) warns of PluStocks – yet another unregistered binary options broker that swindled residents of the province out of a total of CAD 144 446. One of the gullible “investors” even lost all his retirement savings and had to re-mortgage his home.
According to the publication on MSC’s website, the first victim saw an ad of PluStocks, created an account, put some money in and after being able to withdraw some of his “investment” told two friends of the zero risk, high yield opportunity. All three were told by the broker to expect a potential 75% gain within 30 days, and that they could withdraw their money at any time. So they also put some money in.
“Next came a series of unauthorized credit card charges from companies they didn’t recognize,” said Jason Roy, senior investigator with MSC, “When the friends realized there was a problem, requests to withdraw their money were ignored. It was too late. Unfortunately, we’re seeing this pattern far too often.”
The three friends lost CAD 84 486, 46 396 and 13 503, respectively. A total of CAD 144 446.
“These companies are exceptionally good at what they do—parting people with their money,” says Roy.
According to the MSC, PluStocks is affiliated with Almog Ltd. PSBM Ltd., Altredo Ltd., and Greymountain Management, and associated with offices in London, U.K.; Dublin, Ireland; Nahariyya, Israel; and Saint Vincent, Grenadines. The addresses may be false, the watchdog warns.
It seems, however, that the financial watchdogs’ warnings fall on deaf ears. According to the MSC, only since the beginning of this year residents of the province reported losses to unregistered offshore binary options brokers amounting to CAD 330 000. The Commission suspects the losses are actually much higher, but many of the cases go unreported.
The situation in Europe is not much different, with France’s AMF estimating losses in the billions of euro to “fraudulent sites” within several years.
The MSC reminds investors to be careful. “A request to send money offshore to an unregistered firm is a red flag for investment fraud,” the Commission says. It also advises investors to never send money to anyone they only know from an unsolicited phone call or email, never give out sensitive personal information online or over the phone or email, do a proper research before investing and make sure the company they are dealing with is registered as a financial services provider in Manitoba.