Manitoba Securities Commission Fraud Prevention

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Alerts & Cautions

Investor Alert: Celebrity Likeness Lures Manitoba Couple into Investment Scam

Posted: July 26 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 26, 2017    

Celebrity Likeness Lures Manitoba Couple into Investment Scam

Winnipeg - The Manitoba Securities Commission (MSC) is alerting the public on the red flags of investment fraud, as a rural Manitoba couple were defrauded of more than $180,000 by an offshore Binary Options firm. The company lured targets with Internet ads featuring the unauthorized likeness of a well-known Canadian celebrity and the promise of large returns.

One of the victims became interested in investing after seeing an advertisement for WM Option about how a prominent Canadian public figure makes money. Upon clicking the ad, the victim was redirected to www.wmoption.com. The victims invested money via credit card and wire transfer over a period of nine months and were led to believe their investments were profitable and accessible. They became aware of the fraud when an unknown company began making unauthorized charges on their credit card, and the couple were unable to access or withdraw funds from their account.

WM Option has already changed its name to Prime CFDs. Both companies are registered to the same parent corporation in Bucharest, Romania.

“Many of the Binary Options fraud sites we see are very professional in appearance,” says Jason Roy, senior investigator with MSC, and chair of the Canadian Securities Administrators’ (CSA) Binary Options Fraud Task Force. “It could be easy to think you’re dealing with a legitimate company, but there are many red flags if you know where and how to look.”

Binary Options are a sort of ‘wager’ where investors bet on the performance of an underlying asset, often a currency, stock index or share, usually in a short period of time—sometimes minutes or even seconds. When that period is up, the investor receives a predetermined payout or loses his wager. It’s an “all or nothing” proposition. With some of these offshore investments, no actual trading takes place—it’s just a tactic used to steal an investor’s money. Once they have your money, it’s extremely unlikely it can ever be recovered.

“Right off the hop, their only intention is to take your money,” said the victim, who asked to remain anonymous, “but I only became aware at the end when it was too late. They keep pushing you, again and again, to invest more and more.”

“If I could tell people one thing – be aware of the phone calls, of the ads online and on social media. If they promise big wealth in short order, watch out.”

In 2015, there were four complaints from Manitobans about various unregistered Binary Options firms. In 2016, that number rose to 58, with similar numbers on track for 2017.

In March, the CSA launched www.binaryoptionsfraud.ca/ to better inform Canadians on the risks of Binary Options trading.

These are just some of the red flags of investment fraud: There are currently no Binary Options firms registered to sell securities anywhere in Canada. MSC advises all investors to consider the following to avoid becoming a victim of fraud: Investors who believe they’ve been approached by an unregistered individual or firm are encouraged to contact MSC immediately at 1-855-FRAUD-MB to file a complaint or speak with an investigator.

  • Promises of high returns in a short amount of time.
  • Pressure to invest quickly, and make quick decisions.
  • Requests to send your money offshore to an unregistered firm.
  • Offers of ‘free’ or ‘bonus’ money to get started.
  • Never send money to anyone you only know from an unsolicited phone call or email
  • Never give out sensitive personal information online or over the phone
  • Research an investment before making a commitment
  • Make sure the firm and individual you are dealing with are registered in Manitoba by checking their registration status at recognizeinvestmentfraud.com 

 

The Manitoba Securities Commission is a division of the Manitoba Financial Services Agency, a Special Operating Agency of the Government of Manitoba that protects investors and promotes fair and efficient capital markets throughout the province.

 

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Media Inquiries: Jason Booth, Communications Coordinator | 204.945.1660 | jason.booth@gov.mb.ca