Last week, many people in Asia learned the hard way the lesson that they should not trust their money to shady financial service providers. The ASJ Forex Global website, which poses as a forex broker but is actually a classic Ponzi scheme, last week stopped processing withdrawal requests.
ASJ Forex Global’s owners promised that the ability to withdraw would be restored at 09:30 am on July 11, but quite predictably that turned out to be a lie. It is clear from the comments of victims of the scam on consumer review websites, Reddit forums, YouTube and TikTok that ASJ Forex Global have converted trading accounts into “equity accounts” without asking permission, and clients are allowed to withdraw a measly 0.05% of their account balance.
The fact that until recently the website allowed withdrawals is actually the key to the ASJ Forex Global’s success in attracting large numbers of victims from Asian countries, which are the main target of this fraudulent scheme.
In the most common cases, fake brokers and investment firms deceive those who trust them that their money is really being invested and even bring profits. When the victim asks for a withdrawal, this request is deflected with all sorts of excuses, including previously hidden conditions and fees. At some point the scammers just pick up their bags and disappear, only to appear under another name and another domain.
Very often such scammers promise bonuses if you get other people to invest. In ASJ Forex Global’s case, this seems to be the centerpiece of their scheme – the website doesn’t even allow account registration unless you have a referral code. Some of the money deposited by new investors is given away to older participants, giving the impression of credibility and an incentive to persuade friends and family to invest too.
This type of scam – a Ponzi scheme – has long been practiced, but inevitably ends in collapse. However, the individuals behind ASJ Forex Global don’t seem to have given up yet and are hoping to fool more people into giving them their money.
The suspension of the withdrawals was justified by the ridiculous claim that ASJ Forex Globalwas in the process of finalizing strategic funding from JPMorgan Chase, one of the largest financial institutions in the world. Over the past few days, several dubious online blogs pretending to be financial media outlets have run articles purportedly confirming this fake news and presenting ASJ Forex Global as a leading global forex broker receiving a strategic investment from JPMorgan Chase for the second time.
The banking institution categorically refutes this claim in its Twitter account.
The part about ASJ Forex Global being a forex broker, and a leading one at that, is also a total fabrication.
The website claims that the broker is based in Hong Kong, but curiously Hong Kong is listed among the jurisdictions where ASJ Forex Global does not provide its services. ASJ Forex Global cannot be found on the list of companies authorised by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), the institution that licenses and supervises forex brokers.
Brokerage providers that are truly licensed in Hong Kong must meet fairly high regulatory requirements, including maintaining a minimum net capital of HK$5 million, equivalent to approximately US$640,000. These companies are also required to participate in an Investor Compensation Fund, which reimburses retail investors for losses up to a certain amount if the broker goes bankrupt. Unfortunately, ASJ Forex Global victims cannot rely on such guarantees.