Scams are unfortunately all too common in the field of binary options. Dishonest brokers and reviews, or rigged robots and other auto trading services – the scams can come in many forms. So we feel it’s necessary to create this blacklist and list all known frauds and dishonest techniques in one place. We also go through the steps you can take to identify a potential scam and how to deal with the situation after the fact if you’re already a victim. If you know or suspect something is a scam, and we’re missing it on our blacklist, please let us know and we will look into it!
Why Are Stories of Scams So Common?
When any new financial instrument or form of trading first emerges, a whole range of businesses tend to get involved. It’s a fact of life that some of those product providers are going to be more trustworthy than others. This is certainly true of binary options. It is, after all, an accessible and popular method for individuals to trade the markets. What’s more, at least in their early days, binary options trading platforms tended to operate under the radar of the regulators and from any country over the internet – so it’s hardly surprising that unscrupulous operators seek to take advantage. Thanks to better regulation, a strong online trader community and honest reviews, it’s now a lot easier to tell a scam from a legitimate broker. But as with any international online marketplace, there are still some shady outfits who will leave you with less than you bargained for. So what are red flags to look out for? Here are the points to consider as you go about choosing your binary broker.
Are Binary Options A Scam?
The term “scam” covers a wide range of behaviour, from providing misleading information to lure you in, through to vanishing account balances – and even dishonest trading advice. Likewise, a particular broker might not be technically fraudulent in its behaviour; it’s just that the service available on the platform (such as highly unreliable uptime or failure to reimburse funds in a timely manner) means that this is a broker that really ought to be avoided.
In all of these cases, the problem isn’t with binary options as a concept, it’s with the broker.
So it’s a matter of doing your homework before you commit to any particular platform. User reviews can be helpful (if they are genuine), but always treat such reviews with scepticism – and never make a decision on the basis of testimonials published on the broker’s website. Even trader forums can be problematic – look closely and you’ll often find that the forum is an offshoot of a particular broker’s website. Independent, thorough and comparative reviews are the safest way to ‘scam-check’ a broker. Ideally, focus on review sites that allow and encourage real-life users to get in contact and report and problems with particular brokers, so you can be sure that what you are reading is up to date.
Trusted Brokers in the United States
Below is an always up-to-date list of our top 3 trusted brokers. You can find a list of all the brokers we recommend here.
At present, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) does not regulate binary options as they consider this to be primarily a gambling rather than a financial product. But if you take a UK-based broker such as ETX Capital, this particular broker offers a range of financial instruments as well as binaries, which means that it comes with the reassurance of FCA regulation. In other words, although binary options aren’t regulated, that particular firm is on the FCA’s register and its activities as a whole are overseen. By contrast, the USA along with most other EU countries do regard binary options as financial products. Depending on where they are based, many platforms will, therefore, be subject to oversight from a regulatory body. Examples include the CFTC in the US and CySec in Cyprus. A platform’s regulatory status can be a highly valuable trust-indicator for traders seeking to avoid scams. It shows that the broker has to abide by certain minimum standards when it comes to service and transparency.
Marketing “Too Good To Be True”
Taken in isolation, the act of placing a trade should be a straightforward one; and indeed, the usability of a platform tends to be a big selling point for brokers. Although this aspect of binary options is “easy”, it’s something quite different to claim that profits are guaranteed. Realising a profit through regular trading requires knowledge of how markets behave, the ability to read market conditions and an understanding of strategy. If the risks are downplayed – or outright false assertions are made (along the lines of “95% trades are successful”), these are false assurances. It’s a sign that the broker may be less than scrupulous in other important areas and that the platform ought to be given a wide berth.
Terms and conditions
Transparency is essential. Read the smallprint, and be especially wary of needlessly convoluted procedures for withdrawal of funds. Terms regarding your initial deposit can be another source of contention; for instance, if you are denied access to the deposit until a certain number of trades are made – so your money is tied to the platform from the moment it is handed over. This deposit retention is often part of wider terms associated with a ‘bonus’. CySec have sought to ban these sorts of terms by stopping the use of ‘deposit match’ bonuses. Non-CySec brands are still free to use them however, so T&C’s must always checked.
These tend to fall into two categories. The first is where you are called out of the blue and invited to sign up to a particular platform. The second occurs where you are already tied to the platform and you receive a call (or email) from a “senior broker” pointing you in the direction of particular trades. Reputable brokers do not need to make cold calls. Bear in mind “cold calls” might include emails too – any form of unsolicited approach should be considered a “cold” contact and be treated with extreme suspicion.
You should always be clear about who you are dealing with. In some situations, you might visit what appears to be an actual broker’s site, click the link to sign up only to be redirected to another broker. Alternatively a trading “service” may dictate that you use only their recommended broker. These “funnel” sites are sometimes used as a front by brokers with a poor reputation, or are working alongside them to dupe visitors (often using the misleading marketing mentioned above). A good broker will be upfront about its identity from the outset.
It’s one thing for a broker to give you access to the data and analysis tools to work out your own strategies (in fact, this is one of the signs of a great platform). It’s quite another for that broker to also offer trading advice. After all, with ‘over the counter’ binary options brokers, you are betting against the house; if the ‘house’ is making the trading decisions for you, it’s hardly likely that those decisions will be in your best interests. This form of “upselling” is often the most lucrative for the broker, and is usually the where traders lose the most. Encouraged by an “account manager”, traders are advised to deposit beyond their means and to over trade. On occasion large accounts will be wiped out in hours. The “advice” goes against any sound money management, and increases risk hugely. Always take responsibility for your own trades. Never allow a broker to make trading decisions for you.
There has to be a fair and transparent benchmark against which the broker sets its prices. This benchmark should be what’s happening in the real world; i.e. real-time market prices. If the broker reserves the right to set its own prices, you can assume that those figures will be skewed against you; in other words, a loaded deck.
Scam Brokers and Not Recommended Operators
The brokers listed below have generated a lot of complaints both directly and on the forum. The disputes vary from upselling and encouraging traders to over trade, to non-payment of withdrawals and price manipulation. There is little recourse for traders to raise a dispute with unregulated brokers, so it is generally advised that you look for trusted binary options brokers – preferably regulated in your own country where possible. “Scam” has become widely used as a term to refer to any form of poor service, but it should be noted that many of these brokers may have done nothing dishonest or illegal, but have attracted higher than normal levels of complaints. If in doubt, trade elsewhere. There are plenty of honest brokers out there.
- Banc de Binary
- Bull Option
- Vault Options
Robot And Signal Scams
These signal providers, or robot services, are either scams or not recommended for other important reasons.
- Action Binary
- ATARAXIA 7
- Auto Binary Bot Scam
- BinaryOptionBot 2.0
- Faunus Analytics
- FB Wealth Group
- iFollow Signals
- John Anthony
- Legal Insider Bot
- Lone Wolf Signals
- Michael Freeman’s Autotrader
- Paul Applegarth’s Oneclick Autotrader
- Profit Binary
- Profit in 60 seconds
- Signal Index
- The Green Room
- The GCAD Indicator From ITM Financial
What To Do If You’ve Been Scammed
Do you think you’ve fallen prey to a binary options scam? Read on to find out what you can do if you’ve been scammed. There are many ways to help ensure that you don’t fall prey to a scam but the reality is that even if you follow all those tips there is still a possibility you will be scammed. If that happens, what do you do? Do you sit back and take it? Do you give up on trading? No, you need to stand tall and look out for yourself. Trading is good, it is rewarding and can lead to a life in which you don’t have to go to a job and punch a clock. You can’t let the actions of one broker, signal service, robot or guru dissuade you from that path. This article is a look at what you can do if you think you’ve been scammed. It’s likely that once an issue arises you won’t be able to get your profits, it is possible to get back your initial deposit but it might take some work.
- Document everything. The very first thing to do is to make records of everything you can. This includes the brokers, or SSP’s, terms&conditions, copies of any emails/Skype/live-chat you have had with them, confirmation of your deposit, turnover requirements for bonuses and your trading history. No matter what you do next, this information will be required in order to get satisfaction. What you do next will depend on the type of scam you have fallen prey to.
- Try to withdraw. Broker won’t let me withdraw. Contact the broker and try to find out why they won’t let you withdraw. The most usual reason is that you’ve not sent in the right ID documentation, something required by international law, and is an issue easy to fix. The next most pressing reason why withdrawals are not allowed is due to bonus terms and turnover requirements. If you haven’t met conditions you will not be allowed to make any form of withdrawal which is why you want to keep track of all your trading volume and turnover. If you didn’t accept a bonus in the first place your documentation will help you prove it. A good broker will try to solve your issues, a shady one will give you the run-around.
- Make your voice heard. Broker keeps giving me the run-around. If your broker is giving you the run-around and won’t address your issues the next best avenue for satisfaction is to let the community know what is going on. After all, it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. You can do this by posting complaints, with details, in forums like the one here at Binaryoptions.net. When you do this be sure to let the broker know and send them a link. They may not care, a sign of a shady broker, but when it comes to reliable brokers they will want to address your problems to avoid poor publicity. When posting complaints give as much detail as possible, just saying that a broker scammed you is not enough, proofs of fraud are what get results.
- Contact their payments provider. The broker won’t help, now what? At this point the chances that you have been scammed, and not just suffering from miscommunication, are quite high. If you can’t get satisfaction from the broker you will have to take more drastic measures. If you deposited by credit card this may mean calling the card company and requesting a charge-back. Let them know the initial charge was fraudulent and that the company in question is not returning your contact requests for best results. The Times Of Israel reported that a victim of fraud was able to get a full refund of his deposit after contacting the financial institution that processed the brokers payments. They withheld payments until the broker satisfied the claims.
- Contact the regulator. Time to call out the big guns. The great thing about expanding binary options regulation is that there is an alternative for many traders who think they’ve been scammed, you can contact the regulator. In some cases this can be a challenge as many brokers are located off-shore and hidden behind holding companies and virtual offices so be sure to do your homework. If the broker is regulated contact the agency overseeing them, if they are not regulated contact the agency which oversees financial regulation in your country. If the broker is regulated they will have to address your issue, to the satisfaction of all parties, in order to remain compliant. If they are not regulated at least you can be assured at least they will have a harder time scamming any more people from your country. At best cooperation between regulators could result in the broker being shut down for fraud.
- Be persistent. Shady brokers like to hire people who are good at deflecting questions and complaints, don’t accept what they are telling you. It may take time but eventually you will talk to the right person, or persons, and your case will be addressed. What is most likely to happen is that the combination of your contact requests, forum complaints and charges with regulators will add up to one thing, the broker giving you your money back to avoid a much bigger hassle.
How to Spot a Trading Strategy Scam
The internet is loaded with ads, articles, companies and individuals trying to provide you with the next big trading strategy that will make you rich overnight. Take pause my friend, here are tips to help you spot the scam.
A System or Only a Strategy?
First and foremost, trading strategies aren’t really going to help you become a good trader. What you actually need is an entire system. When you make a trading plan it needs to cover how you will enter markets, exit markets and how you will manage your money. It also needs to tell you under what market conditions you do all these things. That is a system, it tells you everything you need to know about how you will trade. A strategy on the other hand only tells you when to enter and exit, and may not tell you under what conditions it works best or poorly. It also may not provide guidance on position size or whether you can trade multiple assets at the same time – issues which are very important to address. In other words, a strategy may have missing pieces of information you need to be successful. We need a complete trading system…but marketers are smart, so they can easily just call the product they are selling a “system” to make it sound more complete. But is it? Here are several things to watch for which could tip you off the product is probably a waste of money:
A boxed system is one where you don’t get to know how the strategy works – it’s an opaque “black box”. For example, the product may just be a series of indicators or a service that tells you when to trade, but not why. This isn’t going to make you a better trader, because you don’t know what is happening behind the scenes. If a product or signal service stops operating you are left with nothing. Even if you made money with the product/service you have to start from scratch all over again. Make sure if you buy something it explains how it works, so that eventually you don’t have to rely on the product/service.
Extremely High Win Rates
Is it possible to have a 90% win rate? Absolutely, yet it is also possible to lose money with a 90% win rate. Stats are easily manipulated to tell partial truths or fabricate lies. Other popular tactics are saying things like “Made $500 in one day!” So what? That doesn’t actually tell you anything. If that was on a $1,000,000 account then making $500 isn’t so grand. And if they lost $3000 they day before, then making only $500 today and bragging about it is rather paltry. Read between the lines. What isn’t being said? To understand performance you need several bits of information: Account size (capital), percentage return, amount at risk on each trade, amount of profit per trade, win/loss ratio, biggest winner, biggest loser, average winner, average loser, number of trades and period over which the strategy was tested/profitable.
There are also some other metrics that could help you out, but if you ask the company for these bits of information, and they can’t or won’t give them to you, be suspicious. You can usually get a sense of what vulnerabilities and tendencies a system has by looking at the above stats. One of the main things is that the strategy should be tested over a long period of time, and in all market conditions–up trends, down trends, ranges, volatile and sedate conditions. It doesn’t necessarily have to profitable in each of these environments, but it should have at least been traded through them all so you know that the system is profitable overall. Often marketers will only publish results for a period where strategy did very well. But this doesn’t give you a real idea of how the strategy or system works over the long-term.
- Related to stats there is something else you need to consider. If a system is profitable, that result is based on all the trades. If you buy the product or the service, are you going to trade them all? On issue many traders face when subscribing to a signal service is that they don’t trade all the signals. If you don’t trade all the signals then your personal results could be dramatically different than the typical results of the service.
Only One Direction
Avoid a system that only trades in one direction, for example only buys assets but won’t short sell them. Markets rise and fall, you want to participate in both trends.
No Trial Period
You should be able to test a product and be able to cancel without a fuss if the service isn’t for you. Usually a quick trading forum search on Google will reveal what others have shares about a product or service. No trial, no deal. Don’t trust anyone, test things out for yourself. If they won’t let you, then be wary.
Final Words on Identifying Scams
A product or service shouldn’t make you reliant on it. It should show you behind the scenes so that eventually you can trade on your own. Good products will always have customers since there are people who don’t want to do the work themselves, and there are always new traders. There is no reason to make every customer totally dependent. Be wary of stats that are thrown out. Ask yourself what the stats aren’t telling you. Also, if the stats they provide are legitimate, then you’ll need to trade all the signals to take advantage and get results typical of the service. Of course remember though, past performance is not indicative of futures results. That is way it pays to do some homework, and make sure the strategy/system/service/product is based on a long history, and has proven itself profitable over all types of market conditions. Test out a product/system/service before buying it. If they won’t let you try, be suspicious.
Case Study – JV Affiliate Marketers
In this section we will look at how you can avoid being scammed by Binary Options JV Affiliate Marketers. Its not so hard, but requires you to let go of your emotions and examine things in a logical manner, as many of the scammers use emotional greed/fear tactics to get your money. Once you understand this you can quickly and simply save your time and money with these unscrupulous dolts. Some scams are simply comical in how stupid they are, while others can be very well done con jobs that lure you in with seemingly genuine people/systems/reviews which later you find are the exact opposite, as you look at your $0 balance wondering “Where did my money go!?”.
As you will see in the numerous scam videos, all you have to do is “NOT DEPOSIT” then these scams no longer work. So next time you see videos that are of a similar nature, just know they are supporting scam systems/marketers. Understand if they require a deposit they are fly by night and even if they were not they are supporting the scammers by the nature of requiring you to deposit with a new broker. So just refuse to deposit and they go away. Not the same stories kind of stories and promises over and over all to get you to sign-up to their “free” system/bots… They are not free you have to deposit and they get paid on those deposits… So remember limited time/fast money/can’t lose!/just fund your account = don’t do it!
In this image above you can see many of the scam systems are connected to each other on the same servers most often. These JV marketers have tons of these turnkey scams as they are very low maintenance. The reason you see so many of them is after a few weeks of the new story line wares off and becomes boring they will start production on another one and keep it all fresh and new thus avoiding the wrath of their old scams being complained about and those complaints shared with others. If they keep it new they avoid this along with the fact most newbies jump from one scam to another hoping one of these will work, which none of them do because trading is a learned skill/job… So again, understand their stories and how they work, and don’t deposit.
Case Study – Scams on Social Media
Social media is a “perfect” platform for scammers and can be even more insidious and convincing, and unlike the JV marketers these people will talk to you directly, but only to a point. Once they figure they can’t get any more from you or you no longer have value to them, they will un-friend you in a heart beat. The one thing they are all after is your money, so be on the look out for them asking for deposits or sign-ups telling you about amazing profits and opportunities, which will have you end up with empty pockets. Videos such as those used with both “The Green Room” and “FB Wealth Group” will pretend to be traders/friends, while they are really just out to get your money through either signups or even trying to have you pay them directly.
Also – if you see them mention anything MLM (Multi Level Marketing) related, they are trained to lure you in, so run the other way. These people don’t play around and will say whatever is needed to get you to sign-up and invest. There is a 45 minute long interview of a person that was scammed by both “The Green Room” and “FB Wealth Group”. We named it Binary Options Horror Story because that is exactly what it is in all its gory details. If you are new to binary options read, and absorb the above warning signs fully to see how they scammed people out of their money so it does not happen to you. Notice also how the worked with the brokers directly, which implies that they can be directly involved as well.
Scammers will repeat the common element of wanting you to deposit or even asking for money directly and from there you can tell them “no thanks” and make sure to unfriend them.