Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has issued a statement cautioning investors about WikiFX, which operates an inquiry platform about FX brokers and IBs.
The newly-blacklisted website mainly provides basic information inquiries, regulatory license inquiries, credit evaluations for the listed brokers, platform identification and other services.
Although WikiFX does not offer online trading products, the watchdog was concerned that its website falsely claims affiliation with CN First International Futures Limited, which is an SFC-licensed corporation.
WikiFX says it maintains offices in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Cyprus while its headquarters are located in Hong Kong. However, the regulatory body of Hong Kong states that the HK address is invalid as the unregulated firm is not located in the region, although it may be using the details of a legitimate company to mislead investors.
Hong Kong Regulators Stepping up Compliance Actions
The SFC serves as the region’s paramount regulator, and it routinely shores up forms of market abuse, regulatory lapses and other compliance issues.
The warning comes a few months after the regulator released a report on its survey of the leveraged FX trading at licensed brokers between January and December 2018.
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The survey found that 98% of active clients were retail investors and more than 99% of turnover in the currency market was attributable to spot forex contracts. However, turnover was relatively low for more complex forex products, such as options and forward contracts, which may be difficult for retail investors to understand, the SFC concluded.
Elsewhere, the Hong Kong regulator has recently established its official Facebook page with a campaign warning of a new generation of investment scams that are using flashy social media profiles.
The SFC said the profile of financial fraud is changing as more people are being targeted online, moving away from the traditional cold call. Fraudsters are now contacting people through a range of popular social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, Whatsapp, Telegram and even online dating platforms.
The watchdog urged investors to be vigilant when offered ‘inside information’ or investment tips online, particularly when strangers on social media promote small-cap or less liquid stocks. Additionally, it revealed that more and more Hong Kong small-cap companies have come under the attack of pump-and-dump scams this year.
According to the SFC data, 20% of the market manipulation cases it is currently investigating fall under these kinds of fraudulent schemes that attempt to boost or decrease the price of a stock through recommendations based on false or misleading tips.