FPA Forums and Reviews Admin
Announcing some changes to the handling of scam complaints
New Traders Court
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.