In recent news, the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), Belgium’s financial regulator, has warned against 38 online trading platforms for operating without a license in the country. Among the listed entities, there are foreign exchanges (FX), contracts for difference (CFDs) and cryptocurrency trading brands.
On Monday, the FSMA released a warning against the unlicensed trading platforms that use scam advertisements on social media to attract investors. Sources reveal that among the listed brands, a sizable number of them are still in operation and offer their services to retail customers.
In the official statement released by the FSMA, it stated that these platforms are inherently dangerous and try to deceive investors. Quoting the statement:
“These platforms act very aggressively. They often claim to hold authorization by a fake financial authority, displaying it so as to seem trustworthy. Scammers even try to persuade the victims to allow them to take control of their computer remotely in order to make certain money transfers.”
Among the 38 names listed on the FSMA’s website, there are several crypto entities as well. Some of these names include Assets-Access, A-trade International, BingX, Bitelitgroup, Bitradercode, Common Investments and many more.
Additionally, the regulator has reminded that it is essential to consistently verify a company’s identity, including its name, home country, and registered office. In case the company cannot be clearly identified, it should not be trusted and it is crucial to ensure the credentials of the entity in question.
Notably, the FSMA has been working on updating the warning list and including more threatening entities. Previously, it had warned against a clone and 20 other unlicensed platforms.
Reportedly, the rise of impersonation schemes involving legitimate authorities has become a prevalent issue for the regulators across the globe. Amongst them, Belgium’s FSMA has been one of the firsts to raise concerns about such fraudulent tactics.
Fraudsters are utilizing the market watchdog’s name and logo to deceive consumers and engage in unethical activity. In its warning, the FSMA states that these fraudsters pretend to be employees of the regulatory body and reach out to victims of investment fraud. They also promise to recover a significant portion of their losses and in return, request a fee from the victims, employing the well-known strategy of recovery room fraud.
The FSMA explicitly states that any emails originating from such addresses are fraudulent and not sent by them. It advises consumers who receive emails from these suspicious email addresses to not respond to them and then delete them. It is important to note that the FSMA is not the only financial market regulator grappling with impersonation attempts.
Recently, the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC), also issued several warnings regarding impersonators posing as officials and fake websites. Similarly, regulators in the United States, New Zealand, and various other jurisdictions also face similar challenges.
In March, the FSMA had also revealed its plan of regulating and closely monitoring crypto advertisements. The regulator had stated that the message must be accurate and not misleading. The advertisements must contain mandatory risk information and crypto companies need to inform FSMA ahead of any mass campaign.