Scams using binary options are unfortunately quite common, as you can tell from our list of fraud brokers and services. If you are concerned about falling prey, this guide explains how to avoid scams in the UK.
In short, no. Binaries are, in our opinion, a good product. There are, however, unscrupulous brokers and other service providers out there preying on uninformed traders. This is due to binaries being largely unregulated and unmonitored when they first came to the market – which thankfully has changed a lot in recent years. But with scam artists still out there, what can consumers do to avoid a binary options scams and focus purely on their trading? Read this tutorial on scams and only trade with trusted brokers!
A scams list may not actually be that useful though – operators are closing and re-opening so often that maintaining the list becomes a full time job. A better choice for consumers is to spot the warning signs, and if there are any doubts at all – simply move on to another provider. A list of scams can only protect you from threats that exist today – learning how the con artists operate and mislead consumers can keep you safe for years to come.
There are a number of methods by which the scams associated with binary options will try and make money. There are however, also some pretty obvious red flags that can pre-warn consumers that all might not be well. As ever, the old adage “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is” applies. If you have encountered any of the below, I would advise treading very carefully – and if in any doubt, leave that particular broker – there are plenty of legitimate, trustworthy brokers. There is no need to take risks with any company that you may have doubts over.
For those that simply want to avoid scams and start trading without reading this whole guide, go with any of these brokers:
A service called MyChargeBack.com offer a consultancy service to help victims recover their money. They offer a free service to let you know if you have a case. Things like unpaid withdrawals, or unauthorised payments can be claimed via banks or credit card companies, and this firm specialise in dealing with those organisations. The range of services varies based on each case, but they may be able to help:
Look out for the warning signs listed below!
A reputable broker is unlikely to solicit new business by making cold calls and phoning you out of the blue. It is likely that any call made in this way, will involve unrealistic claims about binary options, and potential profits to be gained from trading them. These might include the promise of immediate, high returns, and downplaying any risk.
In addition to telephone calls, some operators may also email directly, in some cases, suggesting an account has already been opened. Any of these methods of getting in contact is an immediate warning sign. Hang up, and delete any mails.
One source of frequent issues is via deposit bonuses. Dishonest brokers will often have some extremely unethical terms. These might include tying in the initial deposit until a certain amount of trades have been met (turnover requirements). They will include the initial deposit (not just bonus funds). Effectively making the deposit their money as soon as it is handed over. Be sure to read these terms before taking a bonus, or making a deposit.
This warning includes automated robots and signals, but also managed accounts, where an account manager has promised massive profits. There is an obvious conflict of interest for these account managers. If you make a long term profit, the brokerage makes a long term loss on your account. An account manager, employed by the broker, is very unlikely to have your trading interests at heart. While they may argue otherwise, letting someone else trade for you is very likely to end in losses. These managers can also encourage traders to invest way beyond their means, which is particularly dangerous. Binary options are a high risk / high reward investment. The risks should never be hidden from you by your broker or account manager.
Many of these warning signs are related – this form of marketing again hides the risks – just like the cold callers and account managers. The “Make money online” and “Get rich quick” marketing surrounding binary options is grossly irresponsible. There are numerous websites, with high production videos that look very appealing. They will suggest making money is easy, possibly even suggesting they copy famous investors. These are all scams. Any promotion that hides, or downplays, the high risk nature of binary trading is not being honest. Binary options are not a way to make easy money, and should not be sold this way. This form of advertising for binary options is generally the most dangerous for the consumer. If you encounter marketing of this kind, do not proceed.
A funnel is a website that will drive traffic to a broker. As a visitor to that site, you may not even be aware you have been redirected to a broker. These funnels generally operate the “get rich” marketing described above, but not always. The issue here is that the consumer will be passed to a broker, who they know nothing about. Having visited the funnel, the new customer will get a call from a random broker asking for a deposit. While this may sound odd to those who have not fallen victim to it, the effective selling of the binary options scam by the funnel website, will mean many people are duped.
Some brokers will include a line within their terms along the lines of: “Our prices may not reflect those of the actual market”. Unfortunately it will not be worded as clearly as that, as the implications are obvious – they set their own prices. If the broker is the counter party to any trade, and they also set the prices, it will be very very difficult to ever make a profit with that broker. Clients are trading against the broker, and they decide the closing prices. One of the two parties will make a loss – and it will not be the broker. Research the terms of trading and beware of any references to settlement figures based on anything other than real world prices.
So those are some key warning signs that should make any potential new trader stop and question what they are being told. If you have come across any of the above, identify the broker involved – and trade elsewhere.
In addition, new traders might try and carry out their own ‘due diligence’ on a brand. Even this however, might carry risk. The reason is, as well as the scam operators, there are review sites that are also dishonest. There are a couple of ways that consumers can protect themselves and find the trustworthy reviews. The first method is in looking at the offerings elsewhere on the review site – if other scams are being promoted, then the reviews are not credible. Ask these question of the site:
The second method is regulation. In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority regulates some binary options brokers. This only happens where the broker offers a form of trading already covered by FCA regulation – Contracts for Difference (CFDs) for example.
The reason this is important is because FCA regulated firms have to be careful about who promotes them too.
If a binary option site lists FCA regulated brands (as we do!), this indicates a level of credibility and protection. That site must be completely honest about the high risk nature of binary options, and it must have accountable individuals, based in the UK who operate it. If it does not, then the FCA firms would not allow their brands to be marketed by them.
Here however, is another level of complexity. Some binary options brokers have sought to register with the FCA. This is not the same as being regulated by them. In order for a firm to be regulated by the FCA, they need to offer additional forms of trading, not just binaries. A brand offering only binary options will not be fully regulated by the FCA. This is because binary options are currently regulated and licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. So the list of binary options brokers regulated by the FCA is actually very small.
In addition to the services below, the FCA have published a list of firms who are not authorised to trade binary options in the UK. While stopping short of calling them scams, the list provides a picture of firms who are prepared to break the law (by offering unregulated trading). They are almost certainly best avoided. The list can be found here:
The marketing in use here is an obvious red flag. Videos that suggest over £500k has been made in under a month are about as obvious as it gets. Unfortunately the claims are not true. This is an outright scam, avoid the “Brit Method” or any associated schemes. These include “Jason Taylor” and any “millionaire maker” scheme linked to that name, or the Brit Method.
The Brit Method is a scam that has been used before. Here is what you need to know to protect your money;
The Brit Method promises to be a binary options trading strategy that can make you hundreds of thousands of Dollars within a few weeks. Unfortunately, it is the latest reiteration of an old scam.
The Brit Method is nothing new. It previously was called the Aussie Method and the Canuck Method, and each time the site had to close due to its bad reputation. Even the guy who supposedly invented the genius trading style is the same.
It is always the same stock picture, just the name changed from Jake Mason to Jake Pertu and now Jason Taylor.
There are many fake testimonials on the website, but make no mistake all of them are made up statements with stock pictures of people who never heard of the method.
Similarly, all the promises made by the Brit Method are lies. The site essentially promises immediate, unlimited gains, but provides little information on how it wants to accomplish this goal.
The site also promises to get you started for free, which is a lie, too. After you complete your free registration, you are refused access to the system unless you deposit $350. But even if you make the deposit, you still wont have access because there is no system. The money is gone, and you will never see it again.
Avoid the Brit Method at all costs. Also, be aware of all future version of the scam. In all likeliness, there will be a German Method and an American Method and they will very likely to use exactly the same methods to con people.
Again, the sales pitch is an obvious red flag. This is a scam, stay away.
The scam suggests that clients can enjoy wealth by following a method created by Warren Buffet. An investor famous for taking long term positions, this fraud has absolutely no connection with Buffet himself.
The process involved visitors being forced to join a particular broker (another scam tactic explained above) and make a deposit in order to get access to a “system”. No system exists, and traders will not get any funds returned. Avoid.
The good news here is that the Ultimate4Trading website has been blocked for UK visitors. The operation is dishonest and should be avoided.
Another scam which again, is thankfully blocked in the UK. Once again, the promise to “get rich” is at the forefront of the marketing but the whole operation is a scam. To the point which even the website is now a haven for malware. Keep away.
Many scams promote themselves on Instagram and Facebook. Most will fall into the categories listed above. The mainstream media have also been duped themselves in the past, including the Daily Mail. These promotions or accounts make wild claims of the profits that can be made, backed up with images of flash cars and other trappings of success. It is all a lie and these operations are to be avoided at all costs. If these people really could turn your £2,000 into £8,000 in a week – why would they need to advertise on social media? They could simply make as much money as they needed from the markets and go and spend their time on the beach. Screenshots are easy to fake – and they never need to show the losing trades.
Anything promoting a ‘get rich quick’ route using binary options is untrustworthy, full stop. Remember also that Martin Lewis (of MoneySuperMarket fame) is considering legal action because Facebook are not doing enough to remove ads claiming to be backed by him. To repeat his quote “Martin Lewis does not do ads“. If an advert mentioned him, avoid it at all costs – it is almost certainly a scam.
Below are some brokers for which we have received credible reports of poor customer care, or worse. Again, many of the tactics used are covered in our article on avoiding scams – this list is unfortunately not exhaustive so if any of the actions below sound similar to other brokers you have come across, stay away from them – and let us know.
Many of the worst brokers have been thankfully shut down, but always be aware of using unregulated brands unless you are able to verify their quality. Not all unregulated brands are untrustworthy, but it does mean more ‘due diligence’ is necessary.
Bonus terms lock in the initial deposit until turnover requirements of x30 are met. Your deposits are yours until you choose to trade them. A broker should not block withdrawals of your deposits before it has even been traded. Avoid.
Opteck have now closed for business. The tighter regulations introduced by CySec (who monitored Opteck) have left the firm with no option but to cease trading. Increased regulation is helping the industry by squeezing out the firms that used misleading marketing, or deception, to earn money from clients.
Boss Capital were a popular broker which accepted US traders. A lack of strong regulation enabled them to operate using questionable methods. They are another firm that have closed as a result of improved regulation.
StratX were a firm brought to our attention by a disgruntled customer (see the testimonial page). The firm use cold calls, account managers and make withdrawals very difficult. Not recommended.
Another firm we have received much correspondence regarding is CFDStocks. They employ most of the tactics discussed above, including cold calls. Most contacts we received say an account manager encouraged larger and larger deposits before disappearing.
If a broker is not listed here, that does not mean it is safe. While we try to list as many of the dishonest brokers as possible, new operators appear regularly. For peace of mind, stick to our reviewed brokers, and use the comparison table to find the broker that suits you best.