Binary options brokers blamed for investment scams that robbed British victims of more than £18 million in the first half of 2017 have been rounded up in a crackdown involving UK police earlier this week.
The raids, which took place two days ago, were the culmination of an unprecedented operation led by City of London Police. The police officers joined the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and HM Revenue & Customs in a series of raids across London’s financial district in one of the biggest anti-binary options actions ever staged.
In what police have described as the biggest operation of its kind, officers swooped on the offices of 20 binary options brokers in order to “review their compliance documents and gather intelligence on different types of investment fraud.”
Investment scams related to binary options providers, which of course are not limited to the suspects of this week’s raid, are believed to have duped more than 700 British victims in the first six months of 2017.
Since 2012, the UK authorities have identified 2,065 victims who lost roughly £59.4 million or £22,811 each, but detectives believe that this is “the tip of the iceberg” as many may have not reported being a victim of a binary options scam.
UK-based binary options companies are currently regulated by the Gambling Commission, but the FCA wants to bring them under its authority, the regulator said earlier this year. Until then, investors do not receive the protection offered by the UK’s financial services regulatory framework when purchasing binary options.
In addition, and in line with practices across most of the EU, the FCA expects to bring certain types of binary options within its regulatory perimeter alongside the implementation of the MiFID II, which will apply from January 3, 2018.
Glenn Maleary, head of the economic crime directorate at the City of London Police, said in a statement: “With our partners, we want to ensure the City is a hostile environment for fraudsters to operate in and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that this is the case. Throughout this year we have been raising awareness of Binary Options fraud and over the coming days we will be providing more advice on how people can beat the boiler rooms and protect themselves from all types of investment fraud.”