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Maine.gov> PFR Home > Securities Home > All Press Releases > Securities Administrator Reminds Investors to Approach Binary Options with Caution; Issues Cease and Desist Order Against Overseas Company

 

April 20, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact: Judith M. Shaw, Securities Administrator

 

Securities Administrator Reminds Investors to Approach Binary Options with Caution; Issues Cease and Desist Order Against Overseas Company

 

GARDINER With online investment opportunities continuing to attract headlines, Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw today reminded investors to be cautious about investments involving binary options.

A binary option is a type of all-or-nothing investment contract, similar to placing a bet. Like the flip of a coin, there are only two possible outcomes: heads you win or tails you lose. When an investor purchases a binary option contract, the investor predicts the value of an underlying asset (currency, stock, etc.) at a predetermined time or date in the future. If the investor correctly predicts the asset price at the end of the contract, which can be just a matter of minutes, the investor receives the payout agreed upon in the contract. If the investor is incorrect, the investor loses the entire amount invested in the binary option.

Investors should use extreme caution when they receive any unsolicited online solicitations particularly those asking you to invest in binary options, said Administrator Shaw, My Office has received multiple complaints over the last two years from investors who have lost many thousands of dollars after being enticed into investing in binary options contracts by unlicensed overseas companies.

In the most recent complaint, one Maine investor was promised by Option Mint, an online unlicensed overseas company offering binary options trading, that the company would match her initial investment of $10,000 with a $10,000 bonus. She was soon solicited to invest additional money which she did after being told she could earn a $10,000 per month return. Ultimately, the investor found she was unable to withdraw funds and the Option Mint website then disappeared.

Administrator Shaw announced the issuance of a Cease and Desist Order against Option Mint. The Order fines Option Mint and several related individuals $30,000.00 for violating Maine securities laws including engaging in unlicensed activity and fraud. It also orders restitution for the Maine victim of $20,000.00. Option Mint and the other respondents never answered the petition when it was filed in February 2018.

I know this Order provides little comfort to the investor who has lost a significant amount of her hard-earned money, said Administrator Shaw. The likelihood we will ever be able to recover this money for the investor is slim. These companies only exist for short periods of time and then they vanish, along with investors money, she added. This should serve as a reminder to us all that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The Administrator reminds investors to keep watch for these common red flags when considering making an investment:

  • Unsolicited investment offers emails or phone calls from an unknown person or firm directing you to a binary option website offering high returns;
  • High-pressure sales tactics threatening calls or emails from representatives of binary options websites;
  • Personal information requests claims from representatives of binary options websites that the government requires copies or photographs of your passport, drivers license, credit cards, etc.;
  • Lack of management/firm information websites that are vague on details about who manages or works at the company or where it is actually located;
  • Guaranteed high investment returns - there is no such thing as guaranteed investment returns. Be wary of anyone who promises a high rate of return with little or no risk;
  • Sounds too good to be true - if the investment sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for exaggerated claims about future success;
  • Pressure to buy immediately - take time to research an investment opportunity before handing over your money. Watch out for pressure to act fast or get in on the ground floor of a new investment opportunity;
  • Constant Turnover of Representatives - be skeptical if the names of the persons you are dealing with at a binary options website seem to change frequently or if you are told your former broker has been fired;
  • Issues with Withdrawals - representatives of binary options websites may use delay tactics to hold up your withdrawal request until it is too late for you to dispute the charge(s) with your credit card company;
  • Unlicensed sellers. Many fraudulent investment schemes involve unlicensed individuals or unregistered firms.
  • Administrator Shaw urged anyone who has questions about the authenticity or legality of an investment opportunity, or about the individual making the offer, to contact the Office of Securities. Information about advisers, salespersons and investing is available at www.investors.maine.gov, by calling 1-877-624-8551 or writing to the Maine Office of Securities, 121 SHS, Augusta, Maine 04333-0121.

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    The Office of Securities is an agency within Maines Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (www.maine.gov/pfr)

Last Updated: April 5, 2019 12:59 PM