Clients of Financial.org, a UK-registered company that has attracted investors from countries across Asia and the Middle East, say they have poured their money into what is believed to be a sophisticated global investment scam and are warning others against being taken in.
According to a Reuters report, Financial.org wrote on the company’s Facebook page that it had converted the balances in its investors’ accounts to its own digital token, dubbed “FOINS.”
The move comes a few weeks after Financial.org, which was red-flagged by eight regulators, warned depositors that it would cut 20 percent of their money and permanently close their accounts unless they raise the minimum capital to $10,000 from $3,000.
The UK’s FCA has blacklisted the asset manager back in January and, in March, United Arab Emirates’ securities regulator issued a warning for investors to steer clear of the company.
The financial watchdogs in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand have also warned against the company in separate regulatory announcements.
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The desperate clients claim that Financial.org, a sponsor of Formula One team Williams, masterminded phony social media accounts and company newsletters, and even alleges fake photographs of company directors on the website.
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Reuters added that it received complaints from some customers who allegedly contributed with amounts between $3,000 and $400,000 to a Ponzi scheme operated by Financial.org. They provided screenshots of their account pages showing withdrawal requests had been rejected, as well as screenshots of the aforementioned notices posted on a password-protected, members-only section of the firm’s website.
The company, which reportedly have offices in Abu Dhabi and London, describes itself as an educational platform and says it doesn’t operate a brokerage business or handle any investments.
According to its website “Members who wants [sic] to invest or trade must first plug-in to FOINS (a Blockchain Platform). All Financial transactions between investors and Financial Service Providers will only take place in FOINS Blockchain System.”
Interestingly, Financial.org has already signed up with Companies House, the UK’s official company register, as a real estate business in 2015. However, the registration doesn’t permit the company to engage in financial transactions. The Companies House also said it was preparing to strike off the firm because it had never filed accounts.