Ever wondered what an unregulated broker operation looks like? Well, today’s your lucky day. Late last Friday, Ukrainian police announced that they had busted a huge “criminal” operation operating across the Eastern European country.
According to a police report, the brokers’ had offices in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Zaporozhye, Mariupol and in the Dnipropetrovsk region. Police across Ukraine conducted 26 search operations in offices and properties belonging to the alleged criminals running the various operations.
Officers were able to retrieve 200 phones, computer equipment, and other data storage devices. Alongside cash and drugs, they claim to have found documents which confirmed the criminal nature of the group’s activities, including merchant checks, invoices, transfer records and customer data.
In total, police arrested nine of the suspects. In their report, Ukrainian authorities said that the group was led by a 34-year-old from Kyiv.
Trade12 and HQBroker still operational
The group was operating two websites, one named Trade12 and the other called HQBroker. Amusingly and depressingly, both of the sites are still up and, as the operations teams running them are not behind bars, it wouldn’t surprise this author if they were still functioning.
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On their respective websites, both brokers claim that they are based in the Marshall Islands. Little did their unsuspecting victims know that they were really lurking in some suburb of Kyiv.
Police said that the scammers used five different shell companies in order to cloak their activity from law enforcement.
More significantly, the police also said that the scammers were using software to hack into their victims’ computers and take control of them.
If that wasn’t bad enough, police claim they weren’t even executing the trades that they were purporting to. Instead, they were just taking customer deposits and withdrawing them. So much for the ‘honest’ offshore broker.
Anyhoo, it’s interesting to know that behind the mask of a Vanuatu, Marshall Islands or St Vincent and the Grenadines financial license lies a Ukrainian scammer. Let’s just hope that, if they are found guilty, they are not able to solicit any more clients.
Note: After the publication of this article, Igor Pejovic, the alleged Director of HQBroker reached out to Finance Magnates. Pejovic claims that the offices raided by Ukrainian police belonged to an affiliate company, one that HQBroker does not own, which the broker uses to source data and leads. Finance Magnates cannot confirm the veracity of this claim and would add that reviews of HQBroker are overwhelmingly negative and replete with assertions that the broker operates fraudulently.