Fraudulent schemes in binary options trading have been in the media spotlight recently. The latest high-profile cases were in Israel in 2016, when the prosecutor's office received numerous complaints about such companies.
The Times of Israel decided to begin its investigative reporting on the fraud. While for customers, who want to return their money, it is not an easy thing to contact a scam broker, getting a job in such a firm is a breeze. They promote themselves here, there, and everywhere.
There are many job ads with a vague description in social networks. The Israeli journalist sent his resumé to one of these agencies. A few days later, he was contacted by an anonymous number and was invited to an interview.
When the reporter came to the meeting, it turned out that Metamorpha Management was not a recruitment office, but a binary options company called Binary St or St Binary.
Binary St office
It was found that the best candidates must have an excellent command of English and persuasion skills.
A journalist was successfully given probation. Below are the inside facts about the phone scam from the sales agents of binary brokers.
How do binary brokers’ agents work?
The company’s office is located in Ramat Gan, Israel. There is a small room full of computers and phones. Three big television screens are booming Bloomberg TV. The background TV noise helps persuade customers on the other end of the line that they are talking to international experts who work in a financial hot spot. For similar reasons, staff is banned from speaking in a language other than English. They all call each other by fake names they use in their calls.
The work of a sales agent is aimed at persuading clients to deposit money in binary options trading by phone. Some agents with extensive experience are personal managers, giving recommendations on trades and in all ways encouraging customers to continue replenishing their deposits.
The working day often lasts from 11:00 am to 1:00 am to contact as many clients as possible. The sales agents drink a lot of coffee and energy drinks, which undoubtedly affects their emotional state. This is a real marathon. A whiteboard lists the names of all the employees. Columns detail their clients’ deposits.
Sales results board in Binary St office (photo by Iacopo Luzi)
Salespeople at Binary St (aka Smith and Taylor Options) are paid a wage of about $1,440 per month plus a bonus of every deposit they get from customers: $20 for an initial deposit of $250, $80 for a deposit of $500, and $120 for a deposit of $1,000.
“Once a client opened an account for $250,000 and the sales agent got a bonus of $25,000,” one of the employees said.
The sales agents make about 30 calls an hour on average, using a system that hides the phone number’s country of origin. Most often they pretend that they are calling from Zurich, Paris, or London.
Clients whom sales agents called were people who had provided their details after seeing some ad on the internet or had responded to email newsletters. Sales agents had all personal information of customers, which they could see on their individual computer screens — first name, last name, country of origin, phone number, address, and even social security number.
The computer systems also enable them to see whether customers are logged in to their accounts.
It is easier to convince clients to trade when they are online, because they are ready to follow the manager’s instructions at the moment. After customers are convinced to make a first deposit, they are guided through a trading process and are told to invest more money.
The agents admit that they have no interest in the success of the client's trade; the goal is to make them deposit.
They talk in a friendly, but insistent manner. Sometimes it is even threatening. Often customers just give up and agree to put in money. This is a kind of psychological violence, which works especially well with desperate and poor people.
Out of 70 calls, there are only a few when the client does not actually deposit funds or at least promises to do so.
If clients have an account that is blocked for international transactions, agents tell them to call their bank and unlock the payment. “It’s going to take five minutes,” the sales agent says.
“I will rob you blind.”
Before and after a phone call, the sales agents insulted customers. “I will rob you blind,” one agent said, muted.
Phrases the journalist heard made him believe that the binary broker’s employees would do almost anything to get their customers’ deposits. “This thing will change your life,” they assured clients. “You need to be a winner,” “You have a 70 to 80% chance to win here,” “Do you want to remain poor and miserable for the rest of your life?” “You will make a lot of money.” And this was only a small part of phrases, using which they tried to entice new customers.
The sales agents always reassured their clients and potential clients that Binary St is a regulated company, not a fraudulent firm like others. “We are professionals,” they said. “We make millions for our clients every day.”
The Times of Israel documented some of the numerous tricks that fraudulent binary options brokers use, having analyzed one day of work at Binary St.
1. Misrepresent themselves as investment experts, lying about their identities and location.
2. Take more money from a credit card than a client has agreed to deposit.
3. Make trades without clients’ permission.
4. Reject withdrawal requests.
5. Manipulate trades through rigged trading platforms.
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I can't believe this was how the employees behaved inside the office. I feel so naive that I trusted them at all. While I was confidently transferring money to the broker, the employees were probably laughing at me for being so foolish.
With my desire to trade Binary Options, I landed on St. Binary broker. Based on their offers, it appeared to be a decent company. However, after making my first deposit, the representative did not stop calling me again just to ask for more funds. He kept telling me to add more money until he started to give threats of being indebted to the broker.
A call from the employees of St. Binary never ended well. They would always try to force me to add more funds then will hang up when I firmly refused. This happened several times before the company terminated my account.
When the representative of St. Binary broker called me, he sounded professional. I was really convinced to open an account with them and because they did not as for a huge amount, I gave it a shot. But then after a week, the company started to demand more deposits from me. I refused then I started receiving threats.
I heard my brother talking with a representative from St. Binary. I heard him begging to return his funds and he was almost crying. When I talked to him, he said that the company did not want to release his money and they have been threatening to sue him if he insists on taking it. I told him that the company has no right to that and that he should fight, but in the end, he still was not able to get anything back.
The employees of St. Binary are just pure evil. How can they talk with the clients telling lies without even hesitating? It is scary how there are people capable of doing this kind of thing. Perhaps, they also mocked me when I willingly deposited to my account multiple times.
Speaking with the representatives of St. Binary broker has always been a struggle. For some reason, they were very rude and impatient. It was far different from when I was still inquiring to the broker. Back then, they were very polite and kind. I guess since they already got an initial deposit, they did not care anymore if we would leave them.
I remember all the phone calls that I had with the representatives of St. Binary broker. They were very intimidating and forceful. Even when I clearly say that I cannot afford to make another deposit, they will still keep asking me to do so and will threaten me of huge losses if I don't.
A sales representative from Binary St. contacted me and invited me to invest with them. I firmly refused but they did not stop calling me. They called almost everyday even when I give them the same answers over and over again.
The employees of St. Binary broker were so scary. At first, they were kind but the more they called, the more they became aggressive. I wish I never answered their call anymore. I ended up losing $1500.
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