UK Court Jails Three for Binary Options Scam

by Arnab Shome
  • BMG offered investments in binary options trading but was a scam in reality.
  • The convicts used the investors' funds for personal spending.
indictment, crime, fraud
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On Thursday, a UK Court convicted and sentenced individuals associated with a London-based company called Bespoke Markets Group (BMG) for defrauding 120 investors of roughly £1.2 million.

Convicts of a Binary Options Scam

The court convicted three individuals: Cameron Vickers, Raheel Mirza, and Opeyemi Solaja, of conspiracy to defraud through a fake company. Further, Mirza was convicted of 'perverting the course of justice,' and a fourth person, Reuben Akpojaro, has been convicted of trading investments without FCA authorization but acquitted of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering .

Vickers, the 'trading floor manager' who convinced investors, and Solaja, who directly received investors' money, have been sentenced to seven and half years in prison. Mirza, who was responsible for setting up and running the BMG offices, has been jailed for eight years. However, Akpojaro is still awaiting his sentencing.

The three convicts who received their sentence have been disqualified from the position of company director for ten years.

The Scam

The four convicts operated BMG between June 2016 and January 2020 and made cold calls to the public to convince them to invest in the fraudulent scheme. BMG claimed to trade binary options with their clients' funds and, to lure investors, even offered to match their investment and refund the losses in the first 3 to 6 months, which were unrealistic offers.

In reality, the convicts misappropriated the BMG investors' proceeds to fund their lavish lifestyle. They used the investors' coffers for expensive foreign travel, cosmetic dentistry, online gambling, property purchases, a wedding reception, and partying in nightclubs.

BMG even offered investors access to a fake online platform showing the funds being traded. To cover up the misdeeds, the convicts set up UK and offshore companies and bank accounts to distance themselves from the fraud and to launder the money.

"BMG was a sham, and despite their best efforts to conceal their true nature with their offshore accounts, this operation shows we will take fraudsters to task and protect UK investors," said Therese Chambers, FCA's Executive Director for Enforcement and Market Oversight.

"As part of our 3-year strategy, we are committed to reducing and preventing conduct that can cause serious harm."

Binary Options Are Banned

The FCA started to regulate binary options in January 2018, only to ban them for retail investors in July 2018. These instruments are very simple: traders only need to determine if the prices will go up or down in a specified period of time, sometimes in minutes or even seconds. However, simplicity has become a curse as a swamp of fraudsters started to target retail investors.

Binary options are banned in most markets, including the UK, Europe, Australia, and Israel. Countries like the US and Japan still allow binary options trading under heavy regulatory oversight.

On Thursday, a UK Court convicted and sentenced individuals associated with a London-based company called Bespoke Markets Group (BMG) for defrauding 120 investors of roughly £1.2 million.

Convicts of a Binary Options Scam

The court convicted three individuals: Cameron Vickers, Raheel Mirza, and Opeyemi Solaja, of conspiracy to defraud through a fake company. Further, Mirza was convicted of 'perverting the course of justice,' and a fourth person, Reuben Akpojaro, has been convicted of trading investments without FCA authorization but acquitted of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering .

Vickers, the 'trading floor manager' who convinced investors, and Solaja, who directly received investors' money, have been sentenced to seven and half years in prison. Mirza, who was responsible for setting up and running the BMG offices, has been jailed for eight years. However, Akpojaro is still awaiting his sentencing.

The three convicts who received their sentence have been disqualified from the position of company director for ten years.

The Scam

The four convicts operated BMG between June 2016 and January 2020 and made cold calls to the public to convince them to invest in the fraudulent scheme. BMG claimed to trade binary options with their clients' funds and, to lure investors, even offered to match their investment and refund the losses in the first 3 to 6 months, which were unrealistic offers.

In reality, the convicts misappropriated the BMG investors' proceeds to fund their lavish lifestyle. They used the investors' coffers for expensive foreign travel, cosmetic dentistry, online gambling, property purchases, a wedding reception, and partying in nightclubs.

BMG even offered investors access to a fake online platform showing the funds being traded. To cover up the misdeeds, the convicts set up UK and offshore companies and bank accounts to distance themselves from the fraud and to launder the money.

"BMG was a sham, and despite their best efforts to conceal their true nature with their offshore accounts, this operation shows we will take fraudsters to task and protect UK investors," said Therese Chambers, FCA's Executive Director for Enforcement and Market Oversight.

"As part of our 3-year strategy, we are committed to reducing and preventing conduct that can cause serious harm."

Binary Options Are Banned

The FCA started to regulate binary options in January 2018, only to ban them for retail investors in July 2018. These instruments are very simple: traders only need to determine if the prices will go up or down in a specified period of time, sometimes in minutes or even seconds. However, simplicity has become a curse as a swamp of fraudsters started to target retail investors.

Binary options are banned in most markets, including the UK, Europe, Australia, and Israel. Countries like the US and Japan still allow binary options trading under heavy regulatory oversight.

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