Job boards for immigrants wise up to binary options fraud

As The Times of Israel continues to investigate the ‘wolves of Tel Aviv’ global financial scam, leading job boards for English speakers have stopped accepting the companies’ ads

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

Illustrative: Newly-arrived French Jewish immigrants are briefed upon their arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, June 29, 2015. (Zed Films)
Illustrative: Newly-arrived French Jewish immigrants are briefed upon their arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, June 29, 2015. (Zed Films)

With few exceptions, new immigrants to Israel do not move here to pursue a life of crime. But whether due to ignorance, desperation or the temptation of high salaries, many thousands have found themselves employed in the binary options and forex industries, a largely fraudulent network of companies that use deceptive practices to fleece hundreds of thousands of victims out of vast sums of money worldwide, all with the tacit permission of Israeli law enforcement, which has strikingly failed to take action to shut down the industry.

On the front lines of the battle to steer new arrivals toward honest work are organizations like Secret Tel Aviv, Janglo, Nefesh B’Nefesh and Gvahim, all of which offer job listings and serve as trusted gateways for immigrants to the world of Israeli employment. But the corrupt binary options and forex companies, the “wolves of Tel Aviv,” are eager to access this pool of smart young foreigners who speak their native languages without an accent — perfect for the deceit and misrepresentation that are central to the fraud. As The Times of Israel has reported, much of this industry is nothing more than theft: Far from investing in any legitimate, conventional options-buying process, the hapless clients of the fraudulent companies are actually gambling in a crooked casino.

How does each job search organization deal with the pressure from such companies to advertise in their forums? It’s an important question because, as a lawyer in Israel (who asked that we not use his name) told The Times of Israel, employees of the industry could face legal difficulties and even requests for extradition to foreign countries as global law enforcement catches up with their crimes. “Without a doubt, the people who work in (fraudulent) companies are exposing themselves to criminal and civil legal problems in the future,” he said.

Following the Times of Israel’s March 23 exposé on the widespread corruption in the binary options industry, Janglo, an online forum for English speakers in Israel, on March 30 announced that it would no longer accept binary forex and binary options job advertisements on its site.

“The policy extends not only to sales jobs,” wrote the site’s manager, Zev Stub, “but to other positions like IT and admin within such firms as well. We’ll be developing our watch list of company names in the coming days and weeks. You can report businesses to us at”

Janglo logo (Courtesy)
Janglo logo (Courtesy)

In an interview with The Times of Israel, Stub, who runs the site from Jerusalem, said that it was a tough decision to make, but after asking readers for their insights into the corrupt and fraudulent practices described in the Times of Israel exposé, he concluded that the industry was to be avoided at all costs.

“In a lot of ways this binary problem is more of a Tel Aviv issue than a Jerusalem issue,” said Stub. “So I never really had to confront it in a frontal way. I knew binary was shady, but it had sounded to me like that meant kind of a gray area. This clarified that it is really not a gray area, it’s a black area.”

When he asked his readers just how bad the binary options industry is, Stub says, the response was overwhelming. “I was surprised. People were like, ‘Of course you have to ban it, it’s not even a question.’”

Zev Stub (Courtesy)
Zev Stub (Courtesy)

Stub has compiled a growing list of companies that are now banned from his site. He says one of the challenges has been to determine which companies are legitimate and which aren’t.

“When I first made this announcement, I got a call from what I think is a legitimate forex company in Jerusalem. They wanted to explain to me how they’re not binary and how they’re legitimate, and the woman I spoke with sounded like a nice religiously observant person with good values.” But at the same time he was speaking to her, Stub got an email from a reader saying, “Here’s a forex ad you must have missed,” and it was for the same company.

“As a moderator, trying to weed out the good from the bad is very challenging. Even today, I was in touch with a company that advertises on Janglo a lot. They have a financial platform for trading forex and they asked me, ‘Why have you not been accepting our messages lately? Because we’re not binary, we’re something else.’ At the same time, all their ads say a year of experience in binary is a plus.”

A blanket ban

Jonny Stark, the founder and manager of Secret Tel Aviv, a website and Facebook group with over 100,000 followers, takes a more far-reaching approach. He bans all online trading companies in Israel that aren’t traditional financial companies.

Secret Tel Aviv (Facebook)
Secret Tel Aviv (Facebook)

Stark notes that this policy has been in place for a year and a half and, in addition to online trading companies, his site bans fraudulent green card, locksmith and moving companies, as well as gambling companies and downloader/injector companies that install malware and viruses on people’s computers.

Jonny Stark (Courtesy)
Jonny Stark (Courtesy)

“There was a time when I was sending 20-30 emails a day to people telling them to stop posting binary and forex jobs. It’s slowed down a lot. If someone posts the job again, we remove them from the group. Unfortunately, a lot of people have been removed,” he says. “If someone posts a job and doesn’t say the name of the company, we will remove it and message them to ask what the company is.”

A few years ago, Stark recalls, he had a close friend from the US who had just finished the army and was looking for job.

“I spent a long time with him, working on his CV so he could find a sales job with a good company. Halfway through the process, he took a job in binary options and we stopped working on his CV. But the telling point was that within a year he had left Israel. His whole Zionist dream was finished. He had basically been working tricking people out of their money.”

Since he banned all binary and forex ads, Stark says he has gotten a lot of flak from people in the industry. “Fifty percent of (the binary options advertisers) say, ‘OK, fine we won’t do it again.’ But 20 percent of those do it again, so they are removed. The other 50 percent argue with me. Some will say, ‘You know we’re a regulated company. There are good companies and bad companies and we’re a good company. The other angle is just to attack me, like ‘Who are you to tell us what we can’t do? You’re stopping people from getting jobs.’”

Stark says his response to that argument is, “If people are stealing cars all the time, should we not stop them from stealing cars because it’s their employment?”

Nevertheless, he says, he feels a responsibility to offer alternatives to those employed in the industry. “I didn’t want to just attack people and leave it. If we’re going to stop people from getting jobs in binary and forex then let’s make sure they can get jobs in other industries.”

Stark launched a curated jobs board ten months ago. He says it has been used by 2,500 people so far and has offered over 1,000 jobs.

“I heard there are 12,000 people working in the (binary options/forex) industry. A few weeks ago someone told me as high as 20,000. We understand that people need jobs. Living in Tel Aviv is expensive, and it’s difficult to build a life here. But we think there are enough good jobs out there, so that people don’t need to use this as an excuse.”

He adds, “If you are ‘successful’ in binary or forex, those skills are transferable — you can also be very successful in honest high-tech companies.”

‘Good vibes and money!’

A quick perusal of the jobs board of Nefesh B’Nefesh, a nonprofit that brings new immigrants to Israel, reveals numerous ads — in the rising climate of dismay at binary options fraud — that assure would-be applicants “No forex / no binary options.”

From Nefesh B'Nefesh's jobs group (Facebook)
From Nefesh B’Nefesh’s jobs group (Facebook)

However, the Nefesh B’Nefesh board also carries ads that do appear to be for binary options companies, such as this one, dated March 28:

“A successful startup in the online trading industry is looking for energetic Sales people! Come work for a great company, centrally located in Tel Aviv. (GOOD VIBES and MONEY!!!) Conversion people (sales people). Retention people. Customer Support. Sales instructor-Training of capital markets and sales contents- (Experience in binary or forex a must)”

A second advertiser, who posted on Monday, also proved to be seeking to fill jobs in the forex industry.

Asked about such ads, Yael Katsman, a spokeswoman for Nefesh B’Nefesh, sent The Times of Israel the text of the group’s posting rules.

“Please only post jobs in this group or events related to helping Olim with employment. Please do not post forex and binary options opportunities in this group. If you are hiring in this field, please send us the job description, along with the requirements and location to”

Asked if this means that Nefesh B’nefesh assesses binary and forex jobs postings on a case-by-case basis, Katsman did not reply.

Gvahim, a nonprofit dedicated to helping new immigrants find high-quality jobs in Israel, told The Times of Israel it steers clear of the industry: “As a matter of policy we don’t refer or recommend new immigrants to jobs in the field of forex and binary options.”

(The Times of Israel strives to prevent binary options / forex ads on the site.)

Read: The wolves of Tel Aviv: Israel’s vast, amoral binary options scam exposed

Read: Times of Israel Editorial. Binary options: An Israeli scam that has to be stopped

Read: Why hasn’t Israel shut down binary options scam? A former MK describes how she tried

Read: Ex-binary options salesman: Here’s how we fleece the clients

Read: 2,500 victims of binary options fraud to sue in London

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