It seems that the recent troubles facing binary options firms in various parts of the world are just about to get even more serious. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a warning to the public yesterday that unregulated binary options websites are being used by criminals as vehicles to commit fraud.
While regulated binary options are listed on registered U.S. exchanges approved by the CFTC, Cantor Exchange and NADEX, the FBI warns Americans that much of the binary options market operates through websites that don’t comply with U.S. regulations.
The FBI says that binary options fraud is a growing problem and that it is in its crosshairs. From just four complaints in 2011, it received hundreds of complaints with millions of dollars in reported losses during 2016. These generally fall into one of three categories: refusal to credit customer accounts or reimburse funds to customers, identity theft, and manipulation of trading software.
The true extent of the problem isn’t even fully known according to the FBI. And it adds that some European countries have reported that binary options fraud complaints now constitute 25% of all the fraud complaints received.
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The FBI revealed that it currently has a number of ongoing cases, in partnership with the CFTC and the SEC, and it is also backing an international approach to combating binary options fraud.
In January, it organized the 2017 Binary Options Fraud Summit, held at Europol in The Hague, bringing together law enforcement and regulators from North America and Europe to discuss the issue.
Special Agent Milan Kosanovich, which was one of the FBI’s representatives at this event, said: “The summit gave all of us the chance to sit down and talk about what we’ve discovered through our respective binary options fraud investigations, where the challenges are, and how we can all work together.”
So the key to addressing this type of fraud,” he continued, “is national and international coordination between regulatory agencies, law enforcement, and the financial industry.”
He added: “Investors need to be aware of the significant potential for fraud on binary options websites, and they need to make sure they do their due diligence before ever placing that first trade or bet.”