It's "very unlikely" that a 61-year-old woman who was recently defrauded of thousands of dollars online will ever see that money again, the Manitoba Securities Commission (MSC) says.
The Manitoba woman filed a complaint with MSC after an online transaction with Magnum Options fell through. The so-called firm isn't registered to sell securities anywhere in Canada and persuaded the woman into establishing a $10,200 USD trading account with a credit card, the MSC added.
"These unregistered firms are slick, professional and often very friendly," MSC senior investigator Jason Roy said in a statement. "They make investing look easy, but the real goal is simply to part you from your money."
The woman contacted MSC after mysteriously losing $2,000 from her account. She tried pulling the remaining $8,200 but Magnum Options said she had to finish two trades before they would let her do that, MSC said.
The company then told the woman which trades to do, according to MSC. She then received an emailed statement from Magnum showing her account was now empty.
"It's very unlikely any of her money will be recovered," Roy said. "Most of these companies are operating offshore, using bogus credentials. It's an international shell game for the internet age."
Victim of 'binary options' scam
The MSC says this year, Manitobans have been taken for nearly $185,000 through offshore "binary options" scams online. The scam works like this:
"Binary options are a sort of 'wager' where investors bet on the performance of an underlying asset, often a currency, stock index, or share, usually in a short period of time — sometimes minutes or even seconds. When that period is up, the investor receives a predetermined payout or loses his wager. It's an 'all or nothing' proposition. In some instances, no actual trading takes place — the sales pitch is just a channel to steal money."
There are currently no binary option companies registered to sell securities in Canada, the MSC said.
The MSC said Manitobans should be cautious and view any invitations to send cash overseas to unregistered companies as a sign of investment fraud.
The agency added that people should never send money to anyone only known through an unsolicited call or email, never provide personal information online to an unknown source and research companies before making investments.
Reporting fraud or checking on a company's registration status is possible online on the MSC's website or by contacting an MSC representative at 1-855-FRAUD-MB.