I write, therefor I am.
I really like helping out the FPA’s investigators from time to time. They all try their best to help traders. When a company won’t cooperate in the face of evidence that money is owed to a trader, they file a report with the full Scam Investigations Committee and a Scam Confirmation is issued. They try hard to not label companies as scams, but some companies seem determined to gain that label.
The problem is that some of these companies don’t just scam once. Certain persistent scammers keep creating new victims (and new scam complaints). Over time, it becomes very obvious that some forex companies are more like bonfires for your bank balance. They take money in, but seldom, if ever give it back. Once a company earns itself a Scam label, there’s not much else the FPA can do to them even though more complaints keep coming in.
I’ve been discussing this problem with the FPA’s investigators and we managed to come up with several ideas that will let scammed traders continue their fight against these persistent scammers in a way that will maximize the damage to the cash flow of these fraudulent companies.
First and foremost, before making any complaint anywhere, gather your evidence and try to talk to the company first. A very large percentage of scam complaints are just simple miscommunications that could be cleared up by checking back with the company (perhaps several times). Make very sure to gather your evidence before approaching the company. Some brokers have a bad reputation for erasing trade histories, altering data feeds, etc. If you complain first and really are dealing with a true scam, you are giving them a chance to remove or alter evidence before you can collect it all.
Screenshots are some of your best evidence. Make sure to get your trade history and any charts that show problems. For web pages, there’s a great plugin for FireFox called FireShot. It can take images of the whole web page or just the part visible on screen. Get screenshots of everything relevant to your account and also all Terms and Conditions as well as company contact information. Some website keep changing the corporation they claim owns them, so you’ll want evidence of who/what was in charge when your access to your funds was cut off.
If you use LiveChat with a company, keep copies of every conversation. Email is better, since it has headers and other information that make it harder for a company to deny that they said something. If you think the situation has a high chance of being a scam, try to avoid phone conversations unless you can record them. Check your local laws. Some places forbid recording of telephone conversations, and you are trying to gather evidence for your use, not for someone to use against you. In general,written evidence is better, since it’s easier to quote back exactly what someone said in full context than to refer to something like “2 minutes and 37 seconds into the 4th recording.”
Are you reasonably sure it is scam? If you make a bad trading decision, it’s not your broker’s fault. If you risk too much of your account on one trade, it’s not the fault of the signals service. If market conditions shift and your managed account has a drawdown within the levels allowed by your contract with them, that’s not a scam. Trading has risks. Loss of money does not always equal scam. Improper loss of money is what I call a scam.
Assuming that you did all of the above, your personal negotiations failed, you posted at tge the FPA, either got a scam finding or were told that the company has already been marked as a scam, then what? What is there left to do against a company that doesn’t care about public complaints about ripping off its customers?
The scammers hope that you’ll give up. They’ll do whatever they can to discredit you and the FPA, then will go right back to scamming more innocent victims. They thrive on the fact that there are huge numbers of people who will never hear about their misdeeds. By complaining to the FPA, you’ve helped to warn tens of thousands of traders, but there’s a lot more you can do.
If it’s a significant amount of money, you really should consider consulting with an attorney. The cost may be high, but a good lawyer has better resources to hunt down the people behind a scam and to help convince the regulators and authorities to give your case the attention it deserves.
With or without the help of a lawyer, find out if there are any regulators or licensing agencies the company is (or should be) registered with and submit complaints. You should have looked this information up before beginning to do business with a company, but don’t kick yourself too hard if you didn’t. A lot of people don’t. Due diligence is something that’s usually done by someone who’s been scammed before, and this might be your first time. If this is the 5th time you’ve been scammed and you didn’t do any due diligence, kick yourself very hard, quit handing your money over to scammers, and quit chasing high return investments.
For US brokers and account managers, you’ll want to talk to the CFTC and the NFA. For the UK, it’s the FSA and FOS you should be chatting with. There are a lot of other regulators out there. Some are good at enforcing regulations. Some are only business license offices that have no real regulatory authority. Others just issue pretty (but completely worthless) certificates in exchange for cash.
You don’t just have to stick to the usual regulators. If you conducted business with the company via the internet and are a US citizen or resident, visit IC3.gov. That’s the Internet Crime Complaint Center. It’s a joint program from the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. It’s a centralized place to report cybercrime. Some other countries have similar programs. To find them, check with your local or national police, the fraud department of your bank, etc.
You still aren’t done. Maybe your case isn’t big enough to draw the attention of the authorities. Maybe the wheels of justice grind too slowly for your tastes. Don’t worry, there’s still a lot more that you can do to make the scammers regret the day they stole your money.
Before I proceed, put down the gun, flamethrower, grenade launcher or whatever other item you were thinking of using. This is about ethical (and legal!) means of ruining a scammer’s day. You can have violent fantasies about what you will do to the scammers when you catch them, but please keep those as fantasies. I know they probably deserve to be hog-tied and slowly lowered into a large crate filled with rabid hamsters, but the law frowns on that sort of activity.
As mentioned above, scammers hate bad publicity. The reason for this is that serial scammers rely on a never-ending source of new victims. Whether it’s a broker that doesn’t allow withdrawals or a HYIP that’s decided that now is the time to keep it all for themselves, these companies always are on the lookout for new people to hand over nice piles of cash, and they won’t get nearly as many people if a lot of warnings are issued. Complaining at the FPA is a good start. Having an FPA scam finding is a good start. The problem is that once a company is marked as scam, more FPA complaints against them don’t hurt their shady business nearly as much as the original Scam Finding did. Yes, you should still complaint in the FPA’s forums and reviews to warn people that the company has not reformed since being declared to be a scam, but there’s still more you can do.
If you’ve been scammed by one of these companies that just doesn’t seem to care, there’s a perfectly legal and ethical way for you to try to cost them 10, 100, or even 1000 times as much as they cost you for only a little effort each week.
Here’s the plan:
1. Make sure your thread in the FPA’s Scam Alerts folder has plenty of evidence in it. If there’s a scam finding against the company, even better. Screaming “THIS BROKER IS A SCAM!!!” all over the internet without any facts to back your claim up makes you look silly. Typing it in huge fonts or in ALL CAPS only makes you look sillier and hurts your credibility. You need your version of events clearly laid out in a simple, true, consistent, and professional manner with evidence to back up your claims.
2. Start a few blogs. These are typically free and can be useful central locations to link to the next steps in this procedure. Two or three on different blog sites is a good idea in case the scam company manages to get one of them shut down. Don’t make dozens and dozens of them. That looks more like desperation and spam than a serious complaint. Copy your statements and evidence to the blogs, and place links to anything about the company that’s already on the FPA site. Use links to tie all the blogs together.
3. If you really want to go after them, and are willing to deal with the possibility of them trying to get the site shut down, register a special domain name. For example, if you were ripped off by BucketShopFx.com, you can register something like BucketShopFxScammedMe.com. Make very sure your evidence is incredibly good before doing this and warn your hosting company and registrar that there might be complaints. You can point this to one of your blogs or keep it as a stand-alone site.
4. Let the scammers know that at least once per week, you will add a posting the facts about your complaint in another forex or financial website. In each new complaint, give a short, clear description of the problems you are having, Then give links back to your blogs and the prior postings. Some forum admins don’t like links to other sites, so make it clear each time you do it that all future posts will also link back to the current one. That gives the forum admins a motive to not delete your posts, since they do like inbound links from other forums and sites. As you do this, update your blogs and include links to each new posting you make around the web. Remember to take a little time on each forum to see how it is structured so that your post goes to the right place. If you just drop it into a random folder, it won’t be seen by as many people and could be deleted. If in doubt, take a few moments to contact one of the forum administrators or moderators to discuss what you plan to post. Your purpose is to warn people so they don’t lose money to a bad company, not to annoy the forum admins or get yourself labeled as a spammer.
5. If you or anyone you know speaks other languages, make some of these postings in non-English forums. Forex is a world-wide business. Even if you single handedly drive a company out of all English speaking countries, that still leaves billions of potential victims. Post it in Chinese and Hindi, and you’ve made it available to another 2 and a half billion people. Post it in Spanish and you’ve made it available in a very large number of countries. The more languages you can get the facts posted in, the better.
Be aware, if you do this, the company may send their representatives, either openly speaking for the company or pretending to be happy customers ,to try to discredit your postings. Usually, scam companies will be inconsistent enough that after awhile you’ll be able to use these postings to provide more evidence that your cause is just and your words are true. Many scammers are pathologic liars at heart and will provide obvious evidence of their own dishonesty if you give them enough chances.
You can’t save everyone. Some people will fall for a slick sales pitch and never do any of their own research no matter how many times they’ve been ripped off in the past. Some people will read your warnings, look at your evidence, and still throw their money away. Scammers love people like that. Still, following this plan will make what happened to you harder and harder for the scammers to conceal from the vast majority of traders who do try to keep their money safe. They took money from you, so now is your chance to shrink their money supply.
Every person who reads what you’ve written and decides to not use that company is a personal victory for you and a victory for all traders everywhere. Keep up the fight and make the world a better place. Hit the scammers hardest where it hurts them the most – in their wallets.
It’s always best to not get scammed in the first place. As a forex trader, your highest risk is selecting a forex broker that meets your trading needs and also won’t scam you. This article can help with that:
Once you have a broker, there are plenty of additional scams waiting for you. Read this to help avoid those:
By far, some of the the biggest scams are not in trading itself, but in investing in forex through managed accounts. These two articles cover how to not get trapped by the worst of these:
Have a nice day, unless you’re a scammer.