Do not invest more money than you can afford to lose.
The City of London is one of the most renowned financial hubs in the world. Many of the leading financial institutions have headquarters or at least offices in the United Kingdom. This also applies to forex and CFD brokers, although the country’s exit from the European Union has meant that London can no longer be used as a base of operations across Europe.
However, we cannot be sure that when a broker claims to be based and licensed in the UK that this is true. The online space is full of scammers who try to fool people wishing to earn passive income by investing in the financial markets. These scammers rely on the fact that many of these people often do not have enough experience and knowledge to tell the difference between a scam and a legitimate financial services provider.
Quite a few of these fraudulent schemes try to present themselves as London based and licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of the United Kingdom. Fraudsters apply various practices. Sometimes the website simply lists a fake address in London and doesn’t even state which legal entity manages the alleged forex broker.
Other times scammers illegally use the details of legitimate companies – these are so-called clone websites.
In some cases, foreign citizens, usually based in Asia, are taking advantage of the possibility to register companies in the UK. These companies do not have the necessary licences to offer financial services and products. But a general internet search of the name indicates that such a company exists, which is enough to deceive less experienced investors.
It is even more common for an unregulated offshore company to falsely claim that it has the authorisation to offer its services in the UK.
Some of these scams are very sophisticated – the websites look credible, and often real trading platforms are being employed. But this software is rigged and serves to mislead the victims of the scam that their money is really being invested and even generating profits.
The good news is that the FCA is very active in identifying and blacklisting these types of scams. Every month, the British regulator issues warnings about dozens of unauthorised brokers and other types of financial fraud.
Let’s take a look at seven of the unauthorised forex brokers detected by the FCA in the past month of January. These are very typical examples of this kind of scam and can therefore serve as a guide on how to recognize other similar fake brokers.
This website is representative of one of the most brazen and dangerous types of fraud, imitating a real existing broker and illegally using its details.
TradeGlobFx does not actually claim to be based in the UK, but in France. However, the FCA has taken note of the fraudulent activity of this website and has issued a warning that it is not authorised to provide financial services and products in the country.
A check of the French financial regulator’s database confirms that there is no licensed broker using TradeGlobFx’s trading name. The website uses the name of Crowd Tech Ltd., a company actually based in Cyprus. However, this legitimate broker operates through different domains and trade names which can be seen in the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) register.
Like many other shady brokers, TradeGlobFx uses a basic web-based trading platform that is a far cry from the advanced functionality of the industry’s most widely used software solutions, MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5.
One of the ways that most fraudulent brokers are exposing themselves is by offering trading conditions that are in violation of regulatory restrictions.
The most common telltale signs are offering very high leverage and bonuses – practices that are prohibited by most financial regulators. TradeGlobFx claims that it offers bonuses and leverage up to 1:500 even though the FCA allows retail traders to use leverage up to 1:30.
Another red flag is available payment methods. While licensed brokers allow transactions with wire transfer, credit cards and popular e-wallets, scammers are steering potential victims towards cryptocurrencies and obscure payment processors. This is exactly the case with TradeGlobFx, which allows funds to be deposited via cryptocurrencies, and the suspicious OpenUp and Charge Money platforms.
Pro FX Trading
Pro FX Trading is an offshore broker which claims on its website to have a UK office. But the FCA specifically warns that this broker is not authorised.
Pro FX Trading is based in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), an offshore zone that has become notorious for its lack of regulation for forex and other types of brokers.
Some of the industry’s leading brands maintain subsidiaries in this offshore zone, allowing them to compete more effectively in emerging markets in Asia and Africa. Clients of these brokers can count on fair treatment because these companies strive to maintain the image of their established brand. But the same cannot be said for the multitude of SVG-based unknown companies that offer or claim to offer brokerage services. In many cases these are outright scams.
Therefore, in early 2023, the local Financial Conduct Authority announced that it would begin requiring incorporated brokers to provide proof that they are licensed in the jurisdictions in which they offer their services. In the future, this may lead to a reduction in SVG-based scams, but for now, there are still plenty of them. And Pro FX Trading is one of them.
Pro FX Trading displays many typical features of a scam. Easy account registration is not possible because many scammers prefer to select their potential victims themselves. The MetaTrader 4 (MT4) platform is claimed to be available, but only a generic Demo version of the software can be downloaded from the website. Pro FX Trading does not provide credentials to log into its own trading server.
Terms and Conditions and other legal documentation are not provided. It is not clear what payment methods are available and what the terms and conditions are for deposits and withdrawals.
Fx-Infinitytrade is an easily identifiable scam because the website greets us with pop-up messages claiming that a particular person has just won a large sum of money. If such information were credible, it would violate every possible privacy standard.
The company Infinity Fx Group Limited is named as the owner and operator of the website. This company is said to be based in London. However, it is not the FCA but the Securities and Investments Commission that is listed as the regulator authorising its activities.
This shows that the people behind the Fx-Infinitytrade are counting on their victims not knowing who is the responsible financial regulator in the United Kingdom. But this cannot fool the FCA itself, which has blacklisted the website.
Fx-Infinitytrade claims to offer as many as three advanced trading platforms, MetaTrader 4 , MetaTrader 5 and IRESS. But it actually offers none.
Fx-Infinitytrade also does not provide comprehensive information about trading conditions as one would expect from a genuine broker. The website states that leverage of up to 1:500 is offered. As has been pointed out, such high levels of leverage can only be found with offshore brokers. UK regulated companies cannot offer high leverage because this increases the risk of excessive losses for retail traders.
Exclusive Trade FX
Claims can be seen on the Exclusive Trade FX homepage that a group of companies with an impressive array of licences are behind the website. It is stated that this broker is authorised by reputable regulatory institutions such as UK’s FCA, Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, German Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht and French Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution.
A check of these regulators’ databases shows that the Exclusive Trade FX’ claims are a lie – it is not a licensed broker. The FCA has again issued an explicit warning that this is not an authorised provider of financial services and products.
Exclusive Trade FX provides many more clear signs that we are dealing with a scam. Instead of the promised MetaTrader platforms, account registration provides us with access to a ridiculously flimsy imitation of a trading platform.
The only trading parameters described are leverage up to 1:400 and a minimum deposit of 300 USD. As already stated, regulated forex brokers cannot offer such risky leverage levels. And for a lower amount of 300 USD you could open a starter account with almost any licensed broker.
The only payment method available for cryptocurrencies, which as we pointed out is a red flag for fraud.
Using a domain like mondialinvestmentsltd.vip is reason enough to doubt that you are dealing with a trustworthy broker. Mondial Investments provides a contact address in London, but checking the FCA database does not lead us to a licence but to a warning that this website is not a legitimate financial services provider.
After a suspiciously easy account registration we gain access to a basic web-based trading platform. But as stated above, having a trading platform does not guarantee that this trading is not fictitious.
The trading parameters described on the website again provide us with further evidence that this could not really be a UK based forex broker.
First of all we again see excessive leverage up to 1:100. But on top of that Mondial Investments promises guaranteed and high returns. A genuine broker could not promise you guaranteed profits. In fact, licensed companies are required to post warnings about the risk of loss associated with trading financial instruments.
Also noteworthy is the extremely high minimum deposit of 5,000 GBP. Given that you could open a starter account with an established broker for a hundred times less, there is no good reason to take a chance with a dubious website like Mondial Investments.
Aifxholding claims to have authorisation from two leading financial regulators – UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and Australian Securities and Exchanges Commission (ASIC).
Before you put your money on the line, you should carefully check whether such claims are true. Aifxholding cannot be found in the ASIC database, and on the FCA website we find it among the blacklisted brokers.
Aifxholding also claims to be regulated by the Financial Services Authority of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. But as we have already made clear, this institution does not licence or regulate forex brokers. As soon as you open the regulator’s website you see an explicit warning about this.
Like many other phoney brokers, Aifxholding promises traders MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5, but doesn’t deliver. As far as we can tell, Aifxholding has no functioning trading software at all.
Aifxholding reveals itself to be a non-regulated broker by advertising a leverage of 1:1000. You won’t see leverage that high even with most offshore brokers. The ASIC is currently imposing the same leverage limits on retail traders as the FCA and regulators in the European Union.
Again in typical scammer fashion, Aifxholding advertises multiple conventional payment methods but actually steers towards cryptocurrency transactions.
At first glance, FXGlobe makes a good impression because unlike most shady brokers, this website seems to be of good quality and credible. But fact-checking quickly reveals that behind the convincing facade are typical fraudulent schemes.
FXGlobe does not attempt to portray itself as a strictly regulated broker – it states that it is licensed by the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission. But FXGlobe cannot actually be found among the companies registered in this offshore zone.
The broker was apparently trying to lure clients from the UK, which attracted the attention of the FCA and was therefore blacklisted.
Any doubt that FXGlobe is exactly a scam is dispelled by the fact that the website advertises MetaTrader platforms, but actually uses a rudimentary web-based platform with much more limited functionality.
The FXGlobe website does not provide information on trading parameters. The trading platform has a set leverage of 1:500, which is definitely not allowed for brokers operating in the UK.
With this broker, we again see a discrepancy between the advertised payment methods and what is actually available. Like other financial scammers, FXGlobe directs you to opaque payment methods that do not allow you to request a refund or chargeback.