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Online Scams and Fraud - Binary Options

Online scams are nothing new.  Those of us of a certain vintage will remember the tempting offers made by deposed heads of African states in the earliest days of email whereby they said they would let us have a percentage of their untold wealth in return for letting them house their fortunes in our personal bank accounts for a few days.

Then came phishing; look-a-like emails sent by fraudsters on behalf of your bank to see if you’d be kind enough to log-on and provide them with open access to your accounts. 

There have been countless others.  It seems that however many ways legitimate businesses come up with to help us transact more easily, the fraudsters are only one step behind, armed with a new way to use the latest vogue to relieve us of our hard earned cash.

The latest to hit the headlines is binary options (or as they can also been known as all-or-nothing options, digital options and fixed return options) trading. 

In simple terms this a binary option is a financial option in which the pay-off is either a fixed monetary amount or nothing at all.  There are two types of binary option; the first is a cash-or-nothing option which pays a fixed amount of cash if the option expires in profit or an asset-or-nothing option which will pay the value of the underlying security.

Unsurprisingly the ‘or nothing’ possibility has opened the eyes of the world’s more sophisticated digital fraudsters.  An increasing number of binary option outlets (and even the quickest Google search will show you just how many players there are), and particularly those operating outside the regulated financial markets, are actually scams.

The scam itself is simple.  A fake company owns a website that looks like a legitimate binary options broker.  They will create trading signals software that promises all sorts of accuracy and makes guarantees designed to settle the nerves of a would be investor so that they deposit an initial sum.

This is lost but a broker will call to ask you to deposit more.  This will perform well and you will be offered opportunities to increase your investment.  At that point either the website will fold – taking all of your deposits with it – or you will be asked to top up your pot to the level where you can make a withdrawal … at which point the website will fold taking all of your deposits with it. 

If you are the unfortunate victim of this type of scam, this is where life gets particularly difficult.  If the brokerage is a fraud it will leave little behind after it disappears.  It’s very hard to find out who the owners are, how to get hold of them and – most importantly – how to begin the process of recovering the money you’ve invested and lost.

This is made more complicated by the fact they are most likely based outside the UK – Israel has the dubious honour of fast becoming the international leader - and in a country with a very scant regulatory environment.

The combination of our background in financial technology, our ability to successfully resolve cross-border multi-jurisdictional disputes and our assertive, no-holds-barred approach to litigation means we were ideally placed to take charge of a number of binary options cases.  We are now forging a market-leading position in this worryingly fast growing niche, a position that is being increasingly recognised by both our clients and the media. 

If you have found yourself victim to this or any other type of online scam, give us a call and we will talk you through the options and help you start the slow process of recovering your assets.  

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