Before you complain to the regulator: Ultimate Checklist
Complaining to the regulator quickly often results in additional frustration to victims that do not obtain a favorable ruling. But did victims do everything in their power to ensure that justice could be obtained fairly?
2. Gather independent evidence (receipts)
3. Contact the company directly
4. Ask/Alert others in the trading community
Now let’s look at each of these steps in more details to better understand why they should be taken seriously:
1. Preventative measures
Your first line of defense is actually your own common sense. No one will ultimately look out for your own best interest with more diligence and self-preservation instincts better than……YOURSELF. But the greed, gambling, and/or selfish impulses often overwhelm many victims emotionally to get them into the scam funnel. “I was not gambling…” you say? Ask yourself:
–> Did you closely inspect the business model of the company you have entrusted with your money (do you know how they profit from their clients activity)? This single check alone would likely reduce the volume scam folder posts by at least 70% . Because there are certain business models that mimic this behavior:
Company profit = client losses
If a broker/company staff has this type of incentive to literally kill their customers [trading accounts], how can you reasonably expect to profit? Let alone feel safe that your deposit will not magically be converted into a donation?
–> Did you have a solid inner-standing of the product that you were purchasing/trading? It’s one thing to buy into a product or service based on curiosity. You take a calculated chance and you win or lose, but you are not attached to the win. It’s another thing to invest a significant portion of your life savings on something you didn’t fully understand.
Derivatives and particularly over-the-counter (OTC) products like forex and contracts-for-difference (CFDs) are complex products. Additionally, OTC forex et. al. are governed by similar rules as a local swap meet (farmer’s market). It is 110% buyer/depositor beware. And if you don’t understand the market microstructure of the different moving parts, you can very easily be led astray by snake oil salesman and bucket shops masquerading as offering legitimate trader services. The FPA scam alerts folder is just a sample of those victims.
–> Most traders are caught off guard when a OTC broker they hastily trusted with deposits, trades, and to keep all of their trading records. I am shocked whenever a victim doesn’t have an account history statement, either saved locally, via email, or with 3rd party like MyFxBook. I personally dealt with an extreme situation where a victim complained publicly to FPA and then 2 days later, 95% of his emails specifically for that broker suddenly were deleted and his mt4 instance was reinstalled 3 times (potential hacking of his PC). That was an extreme example of security failure, but using your own private computer in a secure manner / VPS and limiting access to it for all of your trading business is a good start.
–> Again, I want to remind readers: no moral, high-horse judgement here. But one of the first steps to true recovery of your mind and your money is to avoid emotional temptations to get rich quick. [I’ll elaborate on this fully in another article]. You become wise to how the market players work by staying calm and letting the true evidence you collect do the majority of the “speaking”. Combine that with the old saying: an ounce of prevention is greater than a ton of cure.
2. Gathering good evidence
For those who play with exchange-traded derivatives (like futures, stocks, not to be confused with OTC CFDs based on the exchange product), you may think that you are better off. Here is a good sample case of an estimated $6+ Billion USD scam where clients were allegedly led to believe they were trading with one type of “exchange” entity, but the reality was much different.
So what kind of “receipts” should a trader / investor hold on to? Screenshots, screen video, voice recording, pdf, or other visual hard evidence showing:
1. You are a verified client of the company. In your company’s client portal, there is a section that shows that you are “verified” or have satisfied Know-Your-Customer (KYC) rules. You will usually also receive an email stating that you are now verified. This means the company can legally offer services to you. (Did you sent money to the company before you were verified?!?)
2. Relevant transaction history (complete trade history, deposits, withdrawals, etc). This is easy to do via the trading platform (mt4, mt5, TraderEvolution, cTrader, etc. Sometimes the client web portal will also have this ability to generate account history, view deposits/withdrawal operations, etc.
3. conversations with support over any relevant issues. This can be live chat, email threads, or even voice calls. Make sure to have transcript of the chat sent to your email. In addition, you may use screen video recording software for live chat. Your phone # that is on file with broker should be setup to auto-record incoming calls. (I recommend avoiding voice calls altogether with a broker with any disputes). Make sure to test your phone’s auto-recording ability ahead of time.
4. any product disclosure statements / terms of service. This is usually located on the brokerage website in the legal section. And it is usually required that you acknowledge receiving these disclosures before you can use the company’s services (you did read them, correct?).
5. regulatory status of company (if any). This is usually on the “about us”, “regulation”, “legal info”, “contact us”, pages, or near the footer of each page.
The location of the company, what their trade name is (who the parent company is), country of regulation, which regulatory entity issues your license, license number, et al.
This also includes showing where the client money will be held (which bank), whether it is segregated, etc.
6. any promises of projected earnings. usually something like “I made $300 last week”, “one of my colleagues made $6,000 so far this month”, “you can make six figures trading this system”, et. al. Make sure to get this captured in a short screen video, or at least as a screen shot.
7. Any specific trading advice. If any company staff (or someone claiming to be related to the company) gave you specific advice on what/when to trade, I would do so. Most regulated brokers prohibit a brokerage inducing a client to make trade or offer trading advice (due to the obvious conflict of interest).
Remember, screen video, screenshot, or voice recording (for phone calls) of all relevant evidence is desired such that it recreates the timeline as closely as possible. Some things like trading account history which is ongoing, you should get a daily confirmation/weekly snapshot. Backing up certain receipts to the cloud might not be such a bad idea either. Having your own receipts puts you in the position of strength, and gives you multiple options for obtaining justice should the company act adversely.
Upcoming articles will deal with specifics techniques to gathering video evidence. Don’t be like one recent victim that said “I can’t believe I was so careless” when he couldn’t produce a track record.
Good evidence makes it easier to create a concise, coherent timeline of events. You are less confused about what happened.
3. Contact the company directly.
if you have identified a potential issue with your company, try calmly bringing your complaint to them. I recommend you gather some basic evidence first. 2 very good reasons for this:
1. Having your own receipts ahead of time will prepare you in situations where records are changed or deleted.
2. When you walk in prepared, you are already more calm and able to create a coherent timeline of events.
The company should have at least 1 contact email for general support and usually 1 email for funding, and 1 email for compliance. It should include your trading account number. And it should be sent from the same email address that you used to open your account (or that your account profile was last updated with).
Attempt to contact the company via email at the compliance + support emails 3 times, with 48-72 hours wait between each email (unless they respond sooner). You will be able to calmly present your evidence that will hopefully compel the offending company to at least return your funds to you.
What to actually shoot for in the emails will depend on the vibe you get from the company operations. For example, if the company is being particularly sneaky, you might want to simply get a withdrawal paid out first before dealing with other compliance issues.
4. Ask/Alert other community members.
When the other 3 do not result in a favorable outcome, now you can reach out publicly. At this point you will have the majority of the basic evidence you need to make a case, although some new ideas may come. Now you just take the existing concise timeline of events, including an accurate title when you create a new FPA scam alert. In that initial post, you will attach all relevant evidence that supports your claims. This will allow other community members to assist you. If you believe your matter is sensitive, you may also reach out to an administrator or senior member in fpa forum such as @AsstModerator , @FxMaster , @Pharaoh , @4EverMaAT ,etc.
This part of making a public case is much easier because you did 95% of the heavy lifting earlier. But please remember: the order of precedence is important. So patience is a virtue. I’ve seen situations where victims have reached out on the forums before gathering evidence and then soon after going public their trading accounts are suddenly blocked or they are locked out of their client portals!!!!
Often times victims arrive at FPA ready to blame the entire world for their problems. Some even accuse FPA staff of working in collusion with some forex companies and refusing to help their case. But let’s be fair: How many of the other popular fx blogs even consider your case?? If so, how have they actually helped? Did you ever consider that the money spent per month on FPA DDoS attack shields alone is enough to buy a decent used car?
Add to that the shame of having to admit that you are wrong about an investment. Admitting that you could have made a better choice allows you to share your experience with others. I don’t think that is shameful. Good thing you have found FPA, where you have a chance to tell your side of the story. You’d be surprised how many conflicts of interest exist in this forex trading industry (for example, brokers, rating blogs, fx forums, introducing brokers, etc are often all colluding together or have side deals). No wonder FPA turns down so many bribes.
Armed with this wisdom about evidence collection, crowdsourced social help, and with level-headed emotions, now you are ready to complain to a regional/national regulator intelligently. Or perhaps you will pursue other avenues of justice. Check out FPA’s Big Book of Regulators for information regarding that specific regulator.
MaAT is an ancient Kemetic phrase that translates to "Truth, reciprocity, balance". Obviously when a company or trader tries to scam their client/business partner out of money, this upsets the natural balance that exists when contracts are formed and traded. But the best way forward is not to be a helpless victim, but to ensure that you are informed with whom you are trading with. And more importantly, whom you are trusting your hard earned dollars with.
4EverMaAT couldn't help but notice that the scams that most people fall for are very similar day by day, month over month, and year after year. MaAT believes that less people would fall for scams if only they took some more responsibility for their own trading choices. This ultimately means resisting one's own gambling impulse and gathering hard evidence (video, screenshot, trading history, etc) of all relevant trading activity. And consolidating this evidence so that it creates a clear, concise timeline of events. More details are related at upcoming blog RegulatedFool.com
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