Australia, Canada warn about 11 binary options firms, most of them Israeli
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Australia, Canada warn about 11 binary options firms, most of them Israeli

Regulator tells The Times of Israel of an upsurge in unlicensed companies targeting Australian citizens

Simona Weinglass is an investigative reporter at The Times of Israel.

A view of Ramat Gan's diamond district, where many binary options firms are located, on April 3. 2016. The sign on the building reads "Israel's diamond district: national pride" (Simona Weinglass/Times of Israel)
A view of Ramat Gan's diamond district, where many binary options firms are located, on April 3. 2016. The sign on the building reads "Israel's diamond district: national pride" (Simona Weinglass/Times of Israel)

The Israeli government’s failure to take action against snowballing fraud in the binary options industry has led to further embarrassing repercussions: the governments of Australia and Canada have issued warnings about 11 firms, most or all of which operate from Israel.

On June 9, the Australian Securities and Exchange Commission (ASIC) warned the Australian public about dealing with eight companies: GOptions, Porter Finance, Boss Capital, MaxOptions, Bloombex Options, Citrades, RBOptions and OptionsXO.

The government regulator wrote in a statement that “ASIC is satisfied that persons based in Australia are likely to suffer detriment as a result of being misled as to the regulatory status of these entities.”

A spokeswoman for ASIC told the Times of Israel by email that “we have noticed an increase in binary option providers targeting Australia that are not adequately licensed or authorized to do so.”

The spokeswoman said that ASIC had recently decided to crack down on unlicensed solicitation of Australian citizens, and had in fact contacted many more companies that the eight listed in the warning. But these eight were those that did not respond to ASIC’s request.

Despite the fact that all of the above-mentioned firms take pains to hide their Israeli identity, sources within Israel’s binary options industry confirmed that all eight of the companies have connections to or operate from Israel.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, June 29, Canada’s Ontario Securities Commission issued new warnings against three binary options firms: OptionRidge, WinOptions and BigOption. All three operate from Israel.

The OSC describes the companies in question as “appearing to be engaging in activities that may pose a risk to investors.”

In a recent interview on Israel’s Channel 2 News, Shmuel Hauser, chairman of the Israel Securities Authority, said “Israelis who take the money of innocent people abroad definitely harm this country’s reputation.”

The Times of Israel has been detailing massive fraud by Israeli binary options firms in recent weeks, beginning with an article entitled “The Wolves of Tel Aviv.

Fraudulent firms employ staff who lie about their names, expertise and location to prey on customers attracted by tantalizing get-rich-quick ads online, in emails and through phone calls. Via a variety of ruses, customers are inveigled into placing their money on a bet as to whether a commodity will rise or fall in value. In theory, they make money if their bet proves accurate and lose their stake if it is not. In fact, the customers almost always lose their money sooner or later because the companies stack the odds against them, or refuse to return their money until they’ve lost it all, or misreport the asset’s value.

Local binary options firms have now been banned by the Israel Securities Authority from targeting Israelis, but are still free to target people abroad.

France, Romania, Canada and other countries are investigating the Israeli fraudsters’ operations in their countries. Israel’s police and law enforcement have thus far proved unwilling or unable to tackle the snowballing fraud, which is estimated to turn over hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

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