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!!! New Traders Court !!!

Discussion in 'Scam Alerts' started by AsstModerator, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. AsstModerator

    AsstModerator FPA Forums and Reviews Admin

    Dec 11, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Announcing some changes to the handling of scam complaints
    New Traders Court

    Short version for those who have limited attention spans...

    Traders Court is changing. The replacement is called New Traders Court.

    1. There are no more individual Traders Court Cases.

    2. If you open a Scam Alerts thread and meet some requirements, you'll be able to invite the company by pressing a button and pasting in their email addresses.

    3. If you have a Scam Alerts thread and an approved review, the thread can be linked to the review.

    4. If you invite the company and the FPA invites the company and they can't fix or explain the issue, your review's effect on the total ratings of the company gets bigger. As the number of complaints like this grows, the company's rating falls very quickly.

    5. When the FPA sees enough complaints, their will be a summary of the complaints posted and a single vote on whether or not the company gets labeled as a Scam.

    6. I will save enough time that I am less likely to die of exhaustion dealing with everything at the FPA.

    If you want to know why. read the long version.

    Long version for those who want to know why this is happening...

    First, let me tell you a little bit of history.

    Back in the old days when the Forex Peace Army was still called Forex Bastards, Felix decided which companies were and weren't scam. He based this on reviews and research he did, but there were no formal investigations.

    Later, all but 2 of the old Scam labels were lifted and the FPA formalized Scam Investigations. To file a complaint, one was supposed to have the rank of Private. The FPA charges traders nothing for its services, so hoped that traders could be active members who helped other traders. After all, you shouldn't join an army just to make one attack on someone you don't like and then disappear. Instead of understanding this, I had one person write multiple lengthy emails about why he shouldn't take the time to make 10 posts to qualify as a Private. The amount of time and effort he wasted trying to get out of the simple requirement was much more than the time and effort he'd have needed to meet the requirement.

    Later, the requirement for the rank of Private stopped being enforced. Brand new people came in and filed Scam Investigation Tickets. Some would disappear immediately. Others would stick around long enough to see a Scam Finding or get their money back and then disappear, never to be seen again. Several people who got large sums back asked how they could thank the FPA. They were asked to come back once per week and answer 2 questions from new traders. Each one asked this agreed. None of them ever posted in the forums again. :(

    There was a danger to this system. With only one complaint leading to a scam finding, it was possible that a single error would result in an innocent company being declared a scam. I'm convinced that this never happened, but did see how it might happen eventually. An improved system was needed.

    The FPA Traders Court Case system began in early 2011 to replace the Scam Investigation Ticket system. Unless there were extremely exceptional circumstances, a minimum of 3 cases voted guilty by FPA members was required for a company to get a Scam Label. This removed the chance of a single error resulting in a Scam label being applied.

    About 450 cases made it to Open Cases. Almost 900 cases didn't make it. Some were resolved before moving to Open Cases. Some were dismissed since the issue did not qualify for Traders Court. Most were dismissed after being abandoned. One that stands out above all others was a person who wanted the FPA to provide him with a legal team and demanded the FPA file complaints with regulators for him.

    Another flaw is the act of opening a Traders Court thread required filling out a complicated form. Sometimes it took over a dozen messages back and forth before the case could be opened. Others gave up on filing the case.

    Those who voted have seen the front end of Traders Court cases. You can see that each one started out as a conversation between me and the trader. That part was done in a semi-private folder. Depending on circumstances, a case could be moved to Open Cases within 10 days or might end up lingering behind the scenes for months. I had to deal with every case, even the hundreds that never went public.

    Although this was an improvement in terms of preventing a single error from triggering an unjust scam label, it came at a very high cost in time and effort required.

    Even a case where the company refuses to respond takes time on the backend system. This now meant a scam finding took at least 3 times as much effort. This was exceptionally bad when dealing with companies that felt the best solution was to argue extensively by email.

    Even cooperative companies also didn't like it. Most of those that replied to complaints felt that replying in the reviews and one complaint thread is enough. If that doesn't work, then they feel that being expected to defend themselves in both a Scam Alerts thread and Traders Court thread over the same issue was a wasteful duplication of effort.

    The trading inviting the company to their Scam Alert thread has been a requirement since scam investigations were first formalized. For reasons I cannot understand, some traders say that there's no use in inviting a company to the thread, since they "probably" won't respond. The simple fact is that if you invite them, let everyone know they've been invited, and they don't show up, that says a lot about the company. If you don't bother to invite them, this means they don't even get a chance to speak out and possibly resolve the issue. I will now never again have to waste time on cases where someone doesn't want to take the effort to try to talk to the company.

    Another problem is that a surprisingly large number of people don't understand "Send the company an invitation to join this thread. Then someone has to carefully explain that they need to email all the addresses they have for the company and that the email needs to include the link to the thread as well as an invitation to come and post a reply in the thread. Even then, some people seemed confused. One time a trader posted an image if his invitation - it asked the company to come to the FPA's homepage. From there, the company would have had to search to find the thread.

    Abandoned cases have been a continuous problem. There's a company which would have a scam label right now, but the trader abandoned what would likely have been the 3rd guilty case instead of bothering to send the invitation. There have been worse things than that. Banc de Binary managed to stretch out the time to get a well-deserved scam label for a long time. This was because traders who were doing everything right on the back end suddenly disappeared when asked one last time if there had been any progress on the case. Considering BDB's history. I suspect they blackmailed or threatened the traders into never coming back to the FPA.

    Another tactic employed by scammers who wanted to avoid a scam label was to do nothing until a 3rd Traders Court case was up for a vote. They'd then pay off whichever of the 3 cases involved the smallest amount of money. YouTradeFx was the worst of these. Eventually, what happened was that several cases came to a vote at the same time and the scammer wasn't prepared to pay that many clients at the same time.

    In some cases, a well-rated company with a large number of reviews decides to go deposit-only. MFX Broker is one of these. They earned a Scam label, but their rating is still over 2 stars. I'd have to look, but I think there was a company with a rating around 3.5 stars that earned a Scam label. If people look at the review page closely, this isn't such a problem. If someone comes in the day before a 3.5 star rated company gets labeled as a Scam and just checks the rating, the person can easily lose their money.

    Companies can get better or worse over time. This is why the FPA implemented time weighting for reviews in 2016. For a company with a large enough number of older good reviews, even this doesn't let the score fall fast enough when a company turns bad.

    The worst possible flaw I've seen over the years with Traders Court is lack of participation. The typical case gets less than 100 votes out of all the active members of the FPA. Many cases were filed by brand new members who dropped out as soon as they recovered their money. Others dropped out the day their case votes was over. If everyone who ever had an issued resolved with the FPA's help voted, there should be many hundreds of votes on every case. If those who used the FPA's reviews to avoid getting scammed voted, it should be tens of thousands of votes.

    The New Traders Court will try to improve all of these issues.

    1. Users need to leave a review and get a Scam Alerts thread opened. There is no longer a separate Traders Court thread to open or monitor. The current manual method for linking reviews to a forums thread should be automated at some point.

    2. There is now a method for those with Scam Alerts threads to press a button to invite the company. All they need to do is fill in some information in a form only visible to the person who opened the thread. There are two main requirements to send the invitation. First, the thread must be at least 4 days old. This allows FPA members to interact and provide advice to the person who opened the thread. Second, the person who opened the thread must add at least one additional post to the thread. A post showing that the invitation has been sent is automatically added to the thread.

    3. The FPA added the ability for FPA admins and moderators to send similar default invitations to companies and those who opened threads earlier this year. Just like the trader, all that's needed is to add the email address or addresses.

    4. Unlike waiting around for a final Guilty vote to change a 1 star review to a zero star review, the FPA will watch as each complaint progresses. If the company does not respond or responds inadequately, there is a separate weighting function which will make the trader's 1 star review count more and more heavily in calculating the final average rating. This also means if a trader is somehow threatened into silence as the situation escalates, the review is likely to already have gained some additional weight. The final result is the ratings for a company that turns bad will usually fall much more quickly than under the old system. The way this is set up, hit and run complaints which aren't escalated don't increase their review's weight. Traders who actively participate in their thread and provide evidence will end up with the weightiest reviews.

    All of this is designed to save a very large amount of time, much of which was wasted on cases that were abandoned.

    The remaining question is "How does a company get a Scam label under the new system?"

    Only a few rating sites will directly call a company a scam. The FPA is the only one I know of with a formal procedure for doing this. It is tempting to to allow the improve weighting system for Scam complaints to let the weighted review score stand alone, but there are still cases where a company needs to be more explicitly labeled as a scam.

    The Scam Label plan is this...

    The FPA will note which companies are getting more and more Scam Alerts complaints tied to reviews. Those complaint threads will be checked to see how many where resolved, and how many escalated. By escalated, I mean that the trader presented evidence and invited the company. If the company didn't show up or gave an inadequate response and the trader who started the thread continues to pursue the case, what was the company's reaction to the FPA's invitation to join the thread? If there's no response or the response is inadequate, that counts as further escalation. The ratings of bad companies will get worse faster. The ratings of companies that turn bad will fall much faster than under the old system.

    If there seem to be enough such threads which are not being resolved , then a summary will be written and the entire issue will be put to a vote. The voting period will be longer and at least 2 mailings will be sent about it. I hope this significantly improve participation in voting. If this doesn't seriously improve voting numbers, then the FPA will have to consider letting ratings stand on their own without issuing any future Scam labels.

    The New Traders Court System is not perfect. Some adjustment may be made over time. In terms of functionality, I consider it to be a large leap forward over the previous systems.
    Anatoly M, 4evermaat and FxMaster like this.
  2. AsstModerator

    AsstModerator FPA Forums and Reviews Admin

    Dec 11, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Please keep this thread on topic.

    The topic of this is how the New Traders Court system works. Suggestions for changes and improvements are welcome.

    Everyone who had live case in the Case Preparations folder will find a message from me in their case thread.

    Items not welcome in this thread include...

    1. "Will the FPA declare CompanyX to be a scam?"

    The answer is "maybe".

    If you want to help contribute getting a company labelled as a scam, make sure you've left a review and get back to your Scam Alerts thread. Fill your thread with evidence and make sure to use the invitation button built into the thread. If you don't have a Scam Alerts thread, then there's no reason to pursue the company in this thread.

    If you know others who have has serious problems with the company, get them to leave a review and open their own Scam Alerts threads.

    2. "Is CompanyY a scam?"

    Tying an unknown company to the word scam is very unfair. First, look at the company's review page to get an idea of how the company treats traders. If there isn't an FPA review page for them, ask if anyone's heard about them HERE.

    3. Random bizarre conspiracy theories to explain the change.

    No one blackmailed or bribed the FPA do to this. The old system was not working as planned and needed to be replaced. Let me save you time in creating your own work of science fiction. Here's the real truth behind the change...

    The evil rulers of Planet Nibiru were worried the FPA would expose their plot to use interplanetary forex trading of the Nibirian Quanchik to manipulate Earth's currency markets. They used a combination of chemtrails and fluoridated water to implant nanochips into my brain. This was done to force me to make this change in order to prevent any cases related to their plan from coming to a vote. They've already taken over two national banks and three major forex brokers. I'd tell you which ones, but if I try, the chips in my brain will all explode and I might also develop an allergy to peanut butter.

    Again, please keep this thread on topic.

    The topic of this is how the New Traders Court system works. Suggestions for changes and improvements are welcome.
  3. AsstModerator

    AsstModerator FPA Forums and Reviews Admin

    Dec 11, 2007
    Likes Received:
    P.S. The FAQ still has many references to the old Traders Court. I may need a week or two to get everything there updated. I will put an update in this post when that is complete.
    4evermaat likes this.
  4. 4evermaat

    4evermaat Corporal

    Jun 26, 2012
    Likes Received:
    A couple of observations:

    1) I'm glad a more streamlined approach is being introduced. Especially one that reflects the realities of how cases actually work. If it reduces the administrative burden AND improves the chances of favorable outcome for victims and legitimate businesses, then I am for it 200% It must of really been hell for @AsstModerator to have to juggle the majority of that administrative burden alone.

    2) I think that there needs to be a better verification system (besides just email verification) that shows a forum member is a real person. I can see potential for abuse of people submitting false complaints and/or fake positive reviews. Perhaps those with a phone verified profile might hold additional weight. And I have some ideas that I will share privately.

    No more guest reviews, or the guest reviews are weighted significantly less that member reviews (particularly phone verified members).

    3a) Can you elaborate on what "inadequate" responses are from the accused [broker]?

    3b) How many scam alerts will need to be active in order for a consolidation/vote to be initiated?

    4) perhaps a mandatory addition to a special New Traders Court email list for people who either list a scam alert or participate in certain FPA threads. If they unsubscribe, then they are ineligible to post their own case, have their votes counted, or possibly even have their This is like being called for jury duty. Although they are free to ignore the email and still not participate, but I think this is a good compromise for providing a free service. I never got those notifications about any upcoming court cases; I just had to remember to stop into the forum.

    This list will only get mailed to include cases that are or about to be put to a vote. And that it would be limited to one per 5 days or something like that. But it could be weeks between a vote, so maybe a minimum email of once per 2 weeks (even if there are no cases).

    I am aware that there were spam reviewers in the past. But now there is a little more incentive to do spam reviews.

    5a) any cases that need to be put up to a vote should either be pinned, or sorted to the top of the scam alerts folder and also highlighted.

    5b) The vote box should be put in a normal thread post and then at the top of each topic page you can say "voting is/will commence on xx/xx/xxxx: jump to vote thread" with hyperlink to the post with the details of the case.

    I would hide the actual voting radio buttons with another text that is required to be checked first:

    "I have reviewed all of the available evidence and ready to make a vote". Then reveal the voting box.

    So position of the voting post in relation to the summarized evidence. And hiding the voting box until the user agrees to a mini-disclaimer that they have read evidence first.

    6) Make sure your New Trader's court has updated screenshots as to how to do each step. The text explanations are good. But screenshots with markups are an excellent teaching tool.

    Also consider a video that covers the steps. I could help with that if there is a way to setup a "dummy" scam alerts thread.
  5. AsstModerator

    AsstModerator FPA Forums and Reviews Admin

    Dec 11, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Good suggestions and questions. Let me add some information.

    1. Thanks.

    2. Guest reviews are currently only given 1/2 the weight of reviews from registered members. As soon as the coders are done with some current projects, I plan to permanently end accepting new guest reviews.

    3. Inadequate responses fall into many categories. These can include "Our investigation of you account will take many months." "We'll get back to you, . . . someday." "You know what you did so we're not going to talk about it here." and things along those lines.

    The number of complaints will be variable depending on the nature and severity of the issues. Failure to process withdrawals without a very good reason would require far fewer complaints than slippage issues.

    4. I'd like to be able to track case votes and was going to make that a requirement. The drawback has already been described. Some people would rather argue forever about how special they are and why they should be given exemptions to rules which apply to everyone else than bother to lift a finger to help anyone else. At least this new system makes sure they actually make a second post in their own thread and invite the company. That's built into the system, so they can argue with a piece of code all day if it makes them happy.

    Since the requirement to show evidence of some sort of relationship with the company remains, I'm not too worried about spam reviews or competitors trying to escalate complaints.

    5. I am debating between putting votes in Scam Alerts or in Open Cases. Either way, they'll be stickied and there will be at least 2 mailouts. The voting thread will have a summary of complaints and links back to individual Scam Alerts threads.

    The current voting system is built into the forums software, so adding a "I've read this" before letting people vote would require additional coding. Those who don't want to bother to read cases would just check the box without reading, like they do on software licences and broker terms of service. :(

    6. Screenshots are on the way. I had to argue about a few details with the coders to fix some things that could have easily confused newer members. I'd rather wait a few more days and only have to take the screenshots once instead of updating them several times as things evolve.
  6. 4evermaat

    4evermaat Corporal

    Jun 26, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Agreed. You and/or members will have to flag this behavior as being inadequate and the reasons for it.

    Agreed. But there will have to be some stated tiered system for this. For example

    failure to process withdrawals: 1-2 complains
    Slippage issues: 5-7 complaints

    But I understand that complaints where there is proof of malintent on the service provider should weigh more than complaints that have little evidence. So hard numbers have to also be combined with a "severity index" of some kind.

    You can code the button so that it will be hidden/greyed out in a countdown. It requires a minimum of 40-90 seconds before the vote box is made available, giving the time. I've seen this on some TOS checkboxes where they put a minimum countdown or scroll requirement where you must scroll down and/or wait minimum # of seconds before the checkbox or submit button is made available. This can be enforced on the server side so refreshing and such will not change the countdown.

    Maybe requiring a comment on the thread as a condition to vote would be an additional ability.

    Maybe a separate blog/software just for voting is more appropriate. The login would still be done via the forum, and the voting software would be linked to the forum in such a way that you just click on the link to comment/vote or you could embed it into a permalink page on forexpeacearmy.com

    I think there should be a minimum of 3 or 4 posts. The third post should come some minimum time after the 2nd post, and before voting ends. Maybe some other trigger also that I haven't considered yet.

    Maybe a post on at least two other unrelated scam alerts or traders court cases (not the same broker) within the last 90-120 days would help increase participation. Or even better, no requirement to post but view at least 2-3 other scam alerts. We can enforce the reading with a minimum countdown of some kind and greyed "i've read this" button in the middle somewhere.

    I have some additional ways to implement this that I can say privately.

    And the participation would be "warm"; and discourage "help me only for free" postings. Asking for some very light participation is fair IMO and reduces the burden on a couple of other forum participants. And it also serves to educate people by letting them see some different type of scams, complaints, what type of evidence was submitted, etc.


    Also, I noticed FPA forum is finally using https:// (secured pages) as the default; good job.

    I wouldn't be surprised if regulators take notice and start to emulate some of their ombudsman adjudication procedures on this new FPA model. It is much more transparent, evidence-based, and focuses on the intent of the service provider and the trader. Not just some vague product disclosure and legalese.
    FxMaster likes this.

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