Montréal - The Autorité des marchés financiers ("AMF") is urging Québec consumers to exercise caution given the recent rise in the number of suspicious schemes by unregistered foreign companies encouraging them to invest in binary options via on-line trading platforms.
"In the past few weeks, AMF investigators, in particular the cybersurveillance team, noticed that companies based mainly in Cyprus, the Virgin Islands and the United Kingdom were using tactics that seem to target Quebeckers," said Jean-François Fortin, Executive Director, Enforcement. "Our investigators discovered web banners with special offers for Québec investors as well as demo accounts posting lots of profits, which is quite unusual," he added.
"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. When that period is up, the investor receives a pre-determined payout or loses his wager. It's an "all or nothing" proposition," explained Mr. Fortin.
Unauthorized binary options trading platforms are sometimes associated with scams. Quebeckers should be very careful when trading on these platforms, as the consequences can be serious, such as difficulty recovering money and even identity theft.
New potential victims
A new scheme specifically solicits investors who have lost money or who are unable to recover their money after investing via unauthorized on-line trading platforms in the past few months.
"It appears that a few of these companies were running multiple platforms. Some consumers who opened accounts, submitted personal information, made investments and lost money, are now being hounded to invest via a new platform. The callers speak French, and attempts are made to obtain credit card numbers. It is important that the public be on their guard," concluded Mr. Fortin.
Some companies even claim that a regulator, such as the AMF, has mandated them to help investors recoup a specific amount of the money recently lost by trading on an unregistered platform. They ask them to open an account on a new trading platform.
On-line derivatives trading: A regulated activity
Offering investment services or products, whether from an on-line platform or in person, is a regulated activity. Before investing, investors should always check with the AMF. Any company offering Quebeckers on-line trading or investing services must be registered with the AMF and authorized to market derivatives.
New platforms identified
Below is the AMF's updated list of websites that are not authorized to offer investment products and services in Québec. The seven platforms most recently identified as suspicious are shown in bold.
The list is updated when new unauthorized sites are brought to the AMF's attention. Check our Investor Warnings section regularly to make sure you have the most up-to-date list. This list is not exhaustive: Always check whether the person or company with whom you are considering investing is duly authorized.
Unauthorized trading platforms
The Autorité des marchés financiers (the "AMF") is the regulatory and oversight body for Québec's financial sector.
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