AMF sounds alarm on binary options
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Montréal – Promises of easy money by trading in binary options via websites: The Autorité des marchés financiers (the “AMF”) is sounding the alarm and urging Québec consumers to stay clear of such scams.
“No business is currently authorized to market or offer binary options in Québec. Over the past few months, we have seen a spike in reports and calls to our Information Centre about binary options offered on-line,” said AMF President and CEO Louis Morisset. “We are especially concerned that consumers who have been enticed by promises of attractive payouts, not only here in Québec, but elsewhere around the world as well, will never see their money and have exposed themselves to a high risk of identity theft and fraud,” he concluded.
A high-risk option? A bet? A scam?
Binary options are like “bets” and the suspicious platforms offering these products are similar to on-line casino sites. Investors are usually asked to bet on the performance of a currency, market index or stock in the short term—often just a few minutes. When that time is up, the investor receives a pre-determined payout or loses his bet. It’s an “all or nothing” proposition, a little like a game of chance. Even when investors earn “virtual” gains, they often cannot pocket the rewards.
Victims of this type of scheme are tempted by the allure of fast profits or an easy first-time investment opportunity. The AMF is also concerned that consumers are being solicited aggressively to invest on other platforms to recover their losses, and that some are unfortunately responding to these offers and are being defrauded a second time.
Businesses thought to be illegally offering investors the chance to make quick money from binary options are operating practically world-wide. The AMF is working with other regulators to share best practices in order to counter these increasingly widespread illegal offers.
On-line derivatives trading: A regulated activity
Offering investment services or products, whether through an on-line platform or in person, is a regulated activity. Before investing, investors should always check with the AMF. Any business that wishes to create or market a derivative in Québec must apply to the AMF for qualification before the derivative is offered to the public. In addition, qualified businesses must offer derivatives to the public through a derivatives dealer duly registered with the AMF, or register with the AMF as a dealer. Finally, qualified businesses must be authorized by the AMF to market each derivative product they wish to offer to the public.
New suspicious platforms identified
Below is the AMF's updated list of websites operating illegal trading platforms in Québec. The 19 platforms most recently identified as suspicious and which are not authorized to market or offer investment products and services in Québec appear in bold.
The list is updated only 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.
Unauthorized trading platforms
None of the websites below are authorized to market or offer investment products to Québec consumers. This is not an exhaustive list. If a website is not listed, it is not necessarily an authorized website. Always check whether the person or company with whom you are considering investing is duly authorized.
The Autorité des marchés financiers (the “AMF”) is the regulatory and oversight body for Québec's financial sector.
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Sylvain Théberge: 514-940-2176
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