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Going to War Against the Bitcoin Scam Industry

Considered by many the most revolutionary breakthrough of the 21st century, Bitcoin continues to surprise the world with its allure and resilience.

Launched in 2009 as a way to create a decentralized method of exchanging money, Bitcoin is by far the world’s biggest and most valuable cryptocurrency. It peaked at around $20,000 per coin in 2017 and today’s value is just under half that amount.

The Bitcoin Scam Industry

The rise of Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency industry it fathered has created great interest and attention over the last ten years. Nobody is certain as to the projection Bitcoin’s value will take over the medium-to-long term. This uncertainty, however, has not deterred investors from purchasing and trading the commodity.

Such interest and attention has unfortunately given rise to a number of criminal entities that seek to take advantage of innocent and unsuspecting victims through cybertheft and cryptocurrency fraud.

Recent investigations into the darker side of the cryptocurrency world have revealed that victims have been scammed out of an estimated $16.5 billion in digital currencies since 2011.

Types of Bitcoin Scams

The number of Bitcoin scams that have surfaced are too many to list. Hackers and scam artists continue to develop new ways to defraud their victims. New scams surface almost on a daily basis. Below are a few of the most notorious of these:

Fake Bitcoin Exchanges

The rise in popularity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has created an increase in fake Bitcoin exchanges. These exchanges deceive their users by offering excellent market prices, giving the impression that the user has made a great investment. The user however, discovers later that the Bitcoin exchange is fake and the scammer has run off with the money.

Bitcoin Ponzi Schemes

Similar to mainstream investment scams, the scammer receives Bitcoins from new investors in order to settle accounts with previous investors. This inevitably results in the investors never receiving a return on their Bitcoin investment.

Fake Cryptocurrencies

A common scam is to release a new cryptocurrency to the market that promises to rival existing ones. The premise is that the time to invest successfully in existing cryptocurrencies has lapsed and that it would be a great investment idea to purchase a new up-and-coming cryptocurrency. This new cryptocurrency may be featured on a fresh, professional looking website. You can bet that it will exaggerate their client base. The purpose is to create a ‘fear of missing out’ illusion forcing victims to scramble to jump on board.

Malware

Using sophisticated techniques, scammers can access your wallet and deplete your funds if you do not have the required malware protection. Malware can be downloaded by clicking on links from unknown email sources, downloaded from the internet and social media, and elsewhere. 

How to Avoid Getting Scammed

The best advice is to trust your instincts and go with the common wisdom that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Other tips to protect yourself from Bitcoin fraud is to:

  • Stick to popular, well known Bitcoin exchanges
  • Ensure you have updated virus and malware protection
  • Keep up-to-date on the latest Bitcoin news and red flags
  • Research and double check your sources before making a decision to purchase
  • Do not trust anyone that approaches you for an investment opportunity

What to Do if You Have Been Scammed

If you have fallen victim to a cryptocurrency scam, take a look at www.mychargeback.com, a U.S.-based company that has successfully recovered over $15 million since opening their doors in 2016.

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Police Nab Trade12 & HQBroker Syndicate

Ukrainian Police Arrest Criminals Operating HQBroker and Trade12

After months of complaints that went unheeded, the Ukrainian police finally arrested criminals that were operating two fraudulent online trading sites, HQBroker and Trade12. Police made the arrests late on Friday, December 14.

According to the official police report, these scam companies had offices in Kyiv, Kharkov, Dnipro, Zaporozhe, Mariupol and in the Dnipropetrovsk region. Police throughout Ukraine conducted over 25 search operations in offices belonging to the purported criminals running these several operations.

The Extent of the Scam

Officers confiscated over 200 phones, computer equipment, along with other devices. They additionally seized cash, drugs and claim to have found documents that confirmed the illicit nature of the entire operation, including merchant checks, invoices, bank transfer records and customer information.

Altogether, the police arrested nine of the accused. In their extensive report, the Ukrainian police stated that the operation was run by a 34-year-old individual from Kyiv.

Trade12 & HQBroker Still Running

The group was operating two fraudulent trading websites, one named Trade12 and the other called HQBroker. Unfortunately, both of the sites are still active and as far as we know scamming plenty of unsuspecting victims. Ukrainian officials have confirmed that the group used around five different shell companies in order to hide their dubious activity from law enforcement officers.

Even more disturbing was that the police additionally stated that the companies were using software that enabled them to take control of the victim’s computer. Furthermore, Ukrainian officials believe the brokers were not executing any trades. Instead, they provided the victims with a trading platform that merely mimicked movements in the market. The companies just took client deposits and subsequently withdrew them into offshore bank accounts and placed a replicated balance on the trading platform.

Take Action Today

If you were the victim of Trade12, HQBroker or any other online trading scam file a formal complaint here and we will assess your case and put you in touch with a regulated fund recovery service or lawyer that specializes in financial fraud.

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binary options cryptocurrency Forex

Investment Scams Still Haunting Australians

Australian Citizens Lose over $35 Million to Investment Scams

Scamwatch, an organization that is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), has recently issued its most recent information pertaining to scams and what they found was startling. The numbers clearly showed that the losses due to investment fraud surpassed $35.8 million in the first 10 months of 2018.

The overall breakdown

From January to October 2018, Australian citizens filed nearly 3,000 reports about investments scams, particularly against non-regulated forex, binary options and cryptocurrency brokers. Overall losses amounted to $35,853,001.

The majority of investment scams still target potential victims that are interested in the traditional markets such as foreign exchange (forex) stocks, real estate or commodities. For example, these con-artists cold-call victims claiming to be a traditional stockbrokers or investment portfolio managers and claim they solely have inside information on a particular stock or commodity that is supposedly about to increase or decrease significantly in value. They often claim what they are offer is low-risk or risk-free and will yield rapid and extraordinary returns.

However, cryptocurrency trading and binary options are two other forms of “investments” where scams are unfortunately widespread. In fact cryptocurrency trading scams have grown significantly over the past year or so and are currently the second-most common type of investment scam that lure victims into depositing their hard-earned cash.

Is there a glimmer of hope?

It seems as if the tide is starting to turn. Since July the overall amount of money that Australians have lost to scams decreased significantly. The month of October, in particular, had the least amount of losses reported this year, with $1,365,444 lost. This is down compared to $6 million reported back in July.  Interestingly enough, individuals over 65 years of age reported the largest value in losses in October while those aged from 25 to 34 filed the most reports.

 

Source: Scamwatch.

How to spot an investment scam

First and foremost always check if the investment company or individual is licensed by a regulatory body such as ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) or the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) of the United Kingdom. If they are not licensed or if they are regulated in some offshore country such as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines do not invest with them. Additionally, any time that a broker or company uses the term(s) ‘risk-free investment’ high return, become a millionaire in just three months they are a scam.

Help me I have been scammed

If you were the victim of a binary options, forex, CFD, or cryptocurrency scam contact us immediately here, fill out the form and we will do our best to get back to you as soon as we can.

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Forex scam

ASIC Warns Public About HBC Broker

HBC Broker is the latest non-regulated forex brokerage that is flagged by ASIC

Another day another scam. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission better known as ASIC has finally updated its broker blacklist this past Tuesday. HBC Broker, additionally known as MPG Invest Limited has been scamming investors since they began operating back in 2016. After receiving enough complaints pertaining to their dubious and illegal business practices the Australian regulator decided that enough was enough and put them on their extensive broker blacklist.

The Australian regulator mentioned that HBC Broker does not possess an existing Australian Financial Services (AFS) license or an Australian Credit license from ASIC to offer financial services in Australia. It stressed that they could be involved in a scam.

HBC Broker – False Location, False Registration & False Regulation

Ironically, HBC Broker stands for “Honest Brokers Collaboration.” That quite honestly is the furthest thing from the truth. The fact that the company needs to state that they are honest raises quite a number of red flags. First off, they claim that they are headquartered in Armenia, 5 Shovroyan St, Yerevan, Armenia to be exact. However, upon further research, there is no office located in that location, just an empty building.

Secondly, the broker claims they started operating in 2010. A simple fact check on the website who.is says otherwise. In reality, the website was registered on 2016-03-07.

Thirdly, on the footer of the website, it says that HBC Broker is a “trading name of Trading Point Holdings LTD”, which is regulated by ASIC, FSP (New Zealand), CySEC, FCA and the MiFID.

However, Trading Point Holdings has no relation whatsoever to HBC Broker. In fact, Trading Point Holdings owns XM, which has all of these aforementioned regulations. If one looks at HBC’s Terms and Conditions one will see that the parent company is MPG Invest Limited.

United Kingdom’s FCA Already Outlawed HBC Broker

ASIC isn’t the first regulator to warn against HBC Broker/MPG Invest Limited. Last July, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a warning against the broker. The warning specifically states that the firm does not have the proper authorization to be soliciting British customers.

By the fact that at least two regulatory authorities (ASIC & the FCA) in separate countries have highlighted this company as suspicious and operating without any sort of license should give prospective investors considerable pause before initiating any type of relationship with the broker.

Are you an HBC Broker scam victim?

If you are the victim of an HBC Broker scam be sure to fill out this form and we will do our very best to get into contact with you as soon as we can

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Binary Options Recovery Scams – The New Villain

Scamming those who have been scammed! So-called recovery experts are scamming those who lost money to online trading scams.

Many individuals who have come across Broker Complaint Registry will, unfortunately, be accustomed to a whole gamut of fraudulent binary options and forex brokers that made up a large swath of the online trading industry. From fixing trades, denying withdrawals and enabling horrible trades, numerous brokers made millions conning innocent people of their hard-earned money.

Because of these aforementioned reasons, a number of regulatory authorities across the globe have now barred the sale of binary options to retail traders. Just a few weeks ago, for example, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) proclaimed that it would be extending its binary options ban for an additional three months.

These sanctions may stop traders from being conned in the future but for those who have already lost their funds, it only provides minor solace. In fact, getting funds back from con-artists, who are almost completely anonymous, has been a challenge for most binary options other online trading scam victims.

Scam Recovery Service – The New Villain

Unfortunately a new sort of scammer – the so-called ‘recovery expert’ has come onto the scene. They specifically prey on those scam victims and often convince them to part with even more of their money and – they’re pretty good at it.

Finding these recovery scam-artists is not too difficult. Just take a look at the comments section of any news article pertaining to forex or binary options trading and you are likely to find a number of posts with the form of the following message: I lost a ton of money trading binary options with ‘xyz’ company, thankfully company X recovered my money for me – just email company X here to find out more.

Here at Broker Complaint Registry, we have discovered a number of fake recovery websites with the same layout: phony office addresses, fake US phone numbers, no license or regulation and no clear indication as to who actually works or runs the company.

One of these companies, Finance Fraud Recovery has a number of positive reviews dating back to May 2017 when in fact they only came into existence approximately one month ago. These are the type of scams victims are facing after they have already been scammed once.

Another website, Optionsrefund, lists its address as being in Christchurch, New Zealand and provides users with a US contact number. The site, however, was registered in Canada and the person that set it up did not provide any name or contact information. Trying to figure out who runs these sites is challenging but, in a number of cases, we can certainly tell that they are not based where they claim.

Beware of those non-regulated fund recovery services

The online trading industry is fraught with non-regulated brokers such as Greenfields Capital to KayaFX masking to be legitimate financial service providers. The same stunt is being pulled in the fund recovery industry. These companies dupe their hapless clientele by claiming to have incriminatory intel against these scam brokers and charge an upfront fee in order to get the case off the ground require up-front, with the minimal likelihood of ever seeing that money again. Remember it is not the initial payment that is problematic as almost all legitimate companies in any industry require some sort of a down payment. This is especially true in the fund recovery business as it is not a given that they will be able to recover the money as there are so many mitigating factors that go into each and every case.

A number of these fake recovery companies even offer state of the art hacking services. Take Binary Options Recovery Specialist, their hacking services include password recovery and credit score editing in addition to their binary options recovery resources. Anyone who wants to utilize any of their services must also pay in some form of cryptocurrency – making it practically impossible to determine where the money is actually being sent.

How can this be prevented?

There is one predominant factor that is driving these scam websites. Those that have lost money from binary options and other online trading scams are generally desperate. These are not multi-billionaires or millionaires who can stand to lose a few hundred thousand dollars or pounds but regular individuals who probably forfeited their whole life savings.

Anyone in that unfortunate situation is almost always desperate for assistance especially when the regulators and other authorities are often at loss as to how to take down these scammers as they are often located offshore. This is where the recovery scam artists come in as they claim they have the necessary capabilities to pursue these binary options and forex brokers.

Preventing such people from operating seems like a Herculean task. Those that own the sites are often difficult to find and, as soon one is shut down, another pops up somewhere else along with a recovery firm targeting those victims. However what you can do is alert us at the Broker Complaint Registry, the financial ombudsman, your banks, social media and everyone in between. Additionally, when you submit a complaint to us we will review it and put you in touch with a regulated fund recovery service or lawyer that specializes in financial fraud.

Listed below are seven scam recovery companies that we have received complaints against. If you were a victim please submit your complaint here. Obviously, there are additional fraudulent recovery companies that are operating if you are aware of them please send us an email at [email protected] and we will do our best to spread the word

  • Capital Chargeback
  • Optionsrefund
  • Finance Fraud Recovery
  • Binary Option Asset Recovery
  • Financialchargeback
  • First Options Recovery
  • WorldTradersRecovery
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Avoid the Financial Commission

Is the Financial Commission Assisting the Brokers?

Regulatory oversight is absolutely pivotal in all sectors, including the Forex market. To facilitate this, every nation’s financial watchdog oversees the Forex market to guarantee that it plays by the rules. However, in some cases, an external dispute resolution service can also be used instead if the country’s regulatory body is unable to intervene. However, one must be extremely careful when using an outside dispute resolution service as some of them such as the Financial Commission often take the side of the brokers.

Financial Commission – Who are they?

The Financial Commission (FinaCom) was created about in 2013 as an independent regulator of the FX market. Today, FinaCom has approximately 30 Forex brokers registered with them, some of them committing major scams in the industry.

Financial Commission = Conflict of Interest

The Financial Commission depends on the Dispute Resolution Committee to deliver a verdict. This is a group of industry leaders who listen to disputes between brokers and their clients. That might be an advantage, but it also presents a clear conflict of interest. The Financial Commission members may be less inclined to rule against a broker, who is their client since they are the ones who pay the company. Therefore, inasmuch as the board members may know exactly what is going on, they may be less inclined to go against their peers in the industry and also their clients.

Furthermore, FinaCom does not have any legal authority to persecute brokers who go against the law as much as a financial regulator created through an act of parliament. That means they just depend on a mutual agreement to solve the disputes rather than the actual law. Consider a case where a Forex broker has numerous complaints against him; if they were prosecuted by a financial regulator, the broker would be liable for all damages. However, according to FinaCom’s Compensation Fund, only the fund balance is distributed equally among the complainants.

There is also a maximum compensation per client – $20,000 for Category A members and $5,000 for Category B members. Even if the client is owed more, the Financial Commission cannot exceed these amounts in compensation. In the case of a broker going bankrupt, for example, FinaCom would not have any authority to demand compensation either. This could happen to any Forex broker as it happened to several in January 2015, including FXCM, which was one of the largest Forex brokerages. That is because FinaCom does not have the legal authority to pursue client compensation in such events.

Victim of a Financial Commission Scam?

If the broker that you are interested in has a stamp of approval from the Financial Commission we believe that you should stay far away. If you were the victim of a Forex scam by any of the brokers associated with the Financial Commission make a complaint here and we will do our best to assist you in any way that we can.

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binary options online trading scam

Binary Options Scams Hurting Australia

Binary Options & other investment scams hit $340 million in 2017 in Australia

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has come out with a report stating that Australians forfeited more money to fraudsters in 2017 than in any other year. According to the ACCC’s yearly Targeting scams report, over 200,000 or so con reports were given to the ACCC, Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) and other national and regional-based government organizations in 2017.

$40 million scam surge from 2016-2017

Never has it been this bad. Losses to scams have totaled more than $300 million for the first time ever, which demonstrates the growing impact of scams on Australians. Investment scams including binary options and forex led all losses at $64 million, a rise of more than 8 percent. Dating and romance scams came in second topping out $42 million.

Despite the fact binary options scams appear to have reduced in 2017 the average loss reported actually increased by a whopping 24%, from $32,744 to $43,085. This means that while there were fewer of them, these online trading scams became more effective at extracting large sums of money from victims. While binary options are not illegal per se in Australia, there are numerous professional looking offshore trading websites offering binary options investments that are complete scams.

Binary trading first appeared on the scene a decade ago around the time of the financial crisis in 2008. Many victims are lured in through adverts posted on social media and are attracted to the simplicity of the schemes. Despite the fact there are regulated binary options brokers they should be classified as gambling at best and not true investments.

How can I protect myself against binary options scammers?

For those who live in the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s financial ombudsman, is responsible for the regulation of binary options companies. There are hundreds of companies on its warning list, and traders are instructed to check the FCA Register to see if a firm is authorized before investing money. They approximate that investors lost nearly £90,000 a day in 2017 on binary options scams.

If you choose to trade in binary options you should only use an FCA approved broker. If you use an unregulated company you will be more at risk of a scam and won’t have access to their help if things go wrong. You can check if a company is registered with the FCA here. No matter which country you reside in be sure to check the regulatory agency to see whether the online trading company is licensed to solicit their services.

I am the victim of a binary options scam, what do I do?

If you were the victim of a binary options trading scam be sure to make a complaint and we will do our utmost to help you get your money back.

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binary options Forex online trading

FCA Updates Forex Broker Scam List

FCA Targets More Forex & Binary Brokers

The FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) finally got around to updating its list of unregulated online trading brokers. This list includes both forex and binary options unregulated brokers. Despite the fact, these brokers supposedly offer numerous services they are located in financial havens such as Seychelles, the Marshall Islands or Vanuatu and provide little to no information as to who they really are, and which parent company operates them. So, without further ado let’s introduce these fraudulent companies

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binary options Forex online trading

Mastercard Targets Online Trading

Mastercard cracks down on binary options and unregulated forex

In what seems like a well-synchronized effort, MasterCard has seemingly shut the door on a loophole that unregulated forex, binary options and CFD brokers have used to solicit their fraudulent “products” to unsuspecting investors. The company recently sent out an email to numerous payment processors notifying them about the imminent changes.

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binary options cryptocurrency online trading

Facebook in Trouble Over Binary Options

Facebook under fire over binary options ads featuring Martin Lewis

One of the United Kingdom’s leading fiscal and consumer advice journalists filed a lawsuit against Facebook this week for allowing binary options and cryptocurrency ads containing his image that has ultimately caused unsuspecting consumers to lose their money.

Just three months after Facebook proclaimed it was outlawing all adverts for binary options, cryptocurrencies, and ICOs (initial coin offerings), well known British journalist and the founder of Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis is suing the company for defamation. The social media giant allowed paid Facebook ads, which promoted binary options to use his image. Individuals who clicked on the adverts and left their contact details complained that various binary options brokers contacted them.

Unfortunately, having the image of a famous person such as Lewis gives these fraudulent online trading companies an air of legitimacy. Most of the time these deceptive ads link to various imitation websites that are often designed to look exactly like genuine publications such as the BBC or CNN. One fictitious site even generated a video fabricating an endorsement from leading physicist Stephen Hawking to solicit its illegal services.

Lewis, when interviewed by Sky News stated “Enough is enough. It’s about time Facebook took responsibility. This is about stopping Facebook facilitating the ripping off of vulnerable people and destroying my reputation at the same time.” Additionally, he stated that he was aware of one particular woman who lost over 100 thousand pounds due to a fraudulent binary options advertisement with his image plastered on it.

A nightmare for Facebook

The lawsuit has the potential to turn into a nightmare for the social media titan since it is claiming that Facebook must be liable for all content that appears on their pages. A number of British analysts have stated that if Lewis wins his Facebook lawsuit, it could be in line for numerous other claims pertaining to what appears on their platform.

When pressed for a comment as to whether it would take into consideration the possibility of using its facial recognition limit the increasing number of unlawful deceptive ads featuring high-profile individuals, Facebook was unresponsive.

Take against binary options brokers

If you were the victim of a binary options scam be sure to fill out our complaint form: https://brokercomplaintregistry.com/binary-options/. Additionally, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter so you can help spread the word and put these scammers out of business.