The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has brought to light the latest scam facing market participants, this time warning about a company going by the name ‘CWA Options’ for providing financial products to UK residents without the required authorisation.
The FCA warned investors not to deal with unauthorised firms, and that investors should always check the financial services register to confirm a company’s authorization or lack thereof. It published the following details: 122 Leadenhall Street, London EC3V 4AB, with phone numbers 020 7060 6358 and 020 3733 1271. There is also a long list of email addresses associated with both of its website domains, https://cwa-options.com and www.cwaoptions.com
A visit to the broker’s website reveals its attempt to mislead investors that it is offering a legal product through providing indirect hints about its regulatory status. However, the FCA confirmed today that the firm lacks such authorisation.
The FCA noted in its warning that although not all financial service providers in the UK market need to be authorized, most of them are, however this is not the case with CWA Options. It went on to remind market participants that victims of fraudulent entities will not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong.
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The growth of the binary options market and concerns about consumer protection have prompted the UK government to consult on proposals to treat binary options as a financial rather than a gambling product. This would mean binary options would be regulated by the financial watchdog, in line with practice across most of the EU.
Low interest rate increases popularity
Finance Magnates reported recently on the British watchdog when it revealed that binary options made up 17 percent of the 106,800 enquiries to the FCA’s consumer contact centre between December 2015 through November 2016, according to the regulator’s most recent data on the UK’s investment products.
Binary options products were the most enquired-about category for the FCA centre in the last year. Consumers contacted the UK watchdog about several product types, including shares (14%), forex (13%) and bonds (10%). In addition, regulatory status amounted to 55% of total inquires. Typically, consumers were checking to see if firms are authorised to sell their products.
The watchdog attributes the increasing popularity of binary options to the current low interest rate environment. However, the FCA added that it has concerns that UK consumers are being increasingly targeted by fraudsters who offer opportunities to invest in binary options. Many such illegitimate binary options firms do not appear to be regulated by any agency, either in the UK or abroad.