As the problems with the binary options brokers pile up, SMN continues its series on the matter with an overview of the unregulated entities that have appeared most frequently on the regulators’ warning lists so far in 2016.
Unlike the licensed binary options brokers who are sticking to some rules and are fined when they break them, the unlicensed entities do whatever they please and are notorious for scamming and unscrupulously fleecing people.
Those brokers often employ aggressive approach into coaxing the unsuspecting “investors” to “invest” more and more, not letting them to withdraw their funds, siphoning off their credit cards and ultimately disappearing, just to reappear under a new name and new address.
Unfortunately, the deceived “investors” cannot do much about it, besides filing a complaint with the local regulator that oversees the activities of investment companies and brokers. The watchdogs, on their part, can’t do much either, besides putting the fraudulent binary options broker on a black list.
But most often than not, the regulators’ reaction is either fatally late, or their warning reaches just a few people. The fact that in spite the numerous alerts people still lose lots of money to fraudulent binary options brokers is a case in point.
In September Scamwatch – a scam recognition service by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released a report that only since the beginning of 2016, Australians have lost $3 million to binary options brokers. In 2015, the losses to various investments scams in the country exceeded $229 million, doubling from 2014.
Action Fraud, the cyber crime unit of the UK police, revealed that between June 2015 and May 2016 it has received 305 reports about binary options, with an average of 27 reports made per month. Those who have filed most reports were men who have being paying via debit or credit card.
France’s investment and financial watchdog, the AMF, revealed that in the six years prior to 2015, the French have lost €4 billion to fraudulent online trading sites, including binary options brokers.
At the same time, the Canadian provincial regulator, the Manitoba Securities Commission (MSC) told of PluStocks – an unlicensed binary options broker that swindled nearly CAD 150 000 from three “investors”. One had to remortgage his home, while another lost his entire pension saving plan.
So here is the list of the unregulated binary options brokers that appeared most frequently in regulators’ warnings this year. Appearing on an alert list does not necessarily mean that this particular binary options broker is a scam, but simply that it is not authorized to offers its services and solicit residents of the territory under the jurisdiction of the regulator.
This ranking is by no means exhaustive and a warning does not mean that they are the biggest scammers, or scammers at all. People, however, must bear in mind that “investing” with unregulated binary options brokers is even riskier than with an authorized one and chances of recovering any lost funds in case the broker goes bankrupt or disappears (happens often), or successfully withdrawing one’s funds, are practically none.
CentralOption – 5
The undisputed leader in the ranking is CentralOption. So far it appeared on five warning lists, most recently on that of Switzerland’s FINMA. Two Canadian regulators – the BCSC and the MSC also announced CentralOption is not authorized to provide investment services and solicit clients. So did Hong Kong’s SFC and Belgium’s FSMA.
CentralOption is owned by Central Provider, claiming to have offices in London and Hong Kong. On its website the broker CentralOption provides the same London address and an address on the Marshall Islands – an archipelago of coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean, but no regulatory information whatsoever.
RBOptions – 4
RBOptions, a binary options broker owned by the Marshall Islands-registered Zulutoys Limited got an order from Canada’s Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) to cease trading. It was also put on warning lists by Belgium’s FSMA and Australia’s ASIC, while South Africa’s FSB has issued a separate warning.
In a way RBOptions can be considered a champion among the unregulated binary options brokers, as it has been on the radar of Canada’s financial and investment regulators since 2014 and they have issued several warnings about it, but continues with its business undisturbed. It also has its own “fan” page on Facebook and a blog, exposing it as a scam. Unfortunately, it does not seem to have many followers, but that does not stop RBOptions from threatening the author with a lawsuit.
DOM Technology Services – TitanTrade/Binary Uno – 3
DOM Technology services appears to be operating at least two binary options brokers – TitanTrade and Binary Uno and appears on the lists of unregulated entities of Italy’s CONSOB, New Zealand’s FMA and Canada’s BCSC, as Binary Uno. In 2015 another provincial regulator in Canada – the OSC also warned against it.
The company claims to be headquartered in London, but is not listed in the financial services providers registry of UK’s regulator FCA.
uBinary – 2
uBinary is a good example of an unregulated binary options broker that changes addresses and names of the owning company in order to confound the “investors” and the regulators.
Within the first 10 months of this year it appears on only two warning lists – of Australia’s ASIC and Switzerland’s FINMA, but it appears it has a long history of fraud allegations. Back in 2014 Belgium’s FSMA was among the first to warn of uBinary and in 2015 the broker appeared on a warning list of the The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA).
In the most current warnings the information about the ownership in both watchdog alerts varies, though both note the broker claims to have an address in Zurich. According to the ASIC, Option Logic Ltd, registered in the Sofia branch of UniCredit BulBank. According to the broker’s website, however, it is run and operated by UB Innovation Limited, registered on the Marshall Islands. There is also another entity listed on the site: UB Innovative Partners LP, with an address in Scotland.
At the same time, some binary options brokers review sites claim it is owned by was owned by a company registered in Belize – PPT Capital Ltd. and was based in London. The facebook (inactive since 2013) page of uBinary also states it is owned by PPT Capital Ltd. The page may be inactive, but there are a lot of complaints of unhappy customers.
There is also a facebook group called “UBINARY VICTIM SUPPORT”. Both on the page and in the group, the complaints go along the same lines: “I told uBinary to stop “trading” and withdraw my money, but they wouldn’t let me have it and carried on making stupid “trades” until it was all gone.”
OneTwo Trade – 2
OneTwo Trade appears to be owned by Up and Down Marketing Ltd. and states it is “fully licensed and regulated” by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA).
It indeed holds a Malta gambling license, but the MGA explicitly notes that “Spread betting and Binary options do not fall within the remit of the MGA”. This type of instrument fall under the authority of the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA).
OneTwo Trade appeared on two alert lists of unregulated entities – of the ASIC and SFC. Later the Australian regulator published an updated list, where OneTwo trade appears as an entity that has agreed to cooperate with the watchdog. It is not clear what this would entail, but it seems the broker has been working undisturbed at least since early 2015, when it appeared on a warning list of the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA).