Binary Options Execs Fear Travelling to US

A series of arrests and prosecutions has spooked former executives at trading firms

Finance Magnates learned on Monday that many executives from the now-defunct binary options industry in Israel are afraid of going to the US.

The news comes less than a week after American authorities jailed Melissa Turdiev for a year. Turdiev, a former reality TV star, was arrested in September 2018 as she tried to board a flight from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv.

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According to the Times of Israel, she signed a plea bargain agreement with US authorities, admitting that she had conspired to commit wire fraud.

Turdiev is the first Israeli binary options executive to be given jail time by US authorities, but she is unlikely to be the last.

In August, Lee Elbaz, the former CEO of Yukom Communications, was found guilty of three counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She will be sentenced in December.

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Four other ex-Yukom employees, Shira Uzan, Liora Welles, Austin Smith, and Yair Hadar, have also signed plea deals with US judicial authorities and are awaiting sentencing.

Spooked

All of this has made many Israelis that worked in the binary options industry fearful of visiting the US or even going to countries that might extradite them.

“The Elbaz case really shocked everyone,” said a source with knowledge of the matter. “A lot of people are canceling trips outside of Israel and especially to the US.”

“I even know of one very senior executive at a regulated broker that had planned a business trip to New York. She canceled her trip after seeing what happened.”

Binary options exploded in popularity in Israel towards the end of the 2000s.

Companies in the industry were regularly accused of scamming their customers and, after growing international pressure, local authorities banned the sale of the product in 2017.

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