Forex Fraud Grows in Australia: Phony Brokers Accused of Investment Scams

With over half the planet’s population and nearly 50 independent countries almost have of which are dependent on international trade, the Asia-Pacific region generates a significant proportion of the global demand for foreign currency exchange (forex). But very few of those 50 or so countries allow their currencies to float on the interbank market. That is a necessary condition for any currency to be used as an international trading currency.

The most prominent of the region’s countries that do is Australia, which explains why so many foreign exchange (forex) traders have located there. Moreover, Australia has a stable economy, a business-friendly work ethic and English, the international language, is spoken by everyone.

But the forex market has its dark side as well.

Operation Papa Arches

Readers “down under” have no doubt already heard that police in Queensland police have arrested a 38-year-old man following a massive 11-month investigation by its Financial and Cyber Crime Group. The is now being indicted on 38 different charges involving forex fraud and making false statements to investigators.

The manhunt for him, code-named “Operation Papa Arches,” was prompted after officials began to receive complaints were received regarding a business calling itself the “Investment Café,” which promised its customers significant financial gains by investing their money through a forex trading platform.

The “Investment Café,” however, was not a registered brokerage. In fact, it wasn’t even a registered business. Rather than serve as an investment platform, it was simply a scam for siphoning off AU$5 million taken under false pretenses from 40 unsuspecting victims, which the platform’s operator used as he pleased.

“These victims entrusted the offender with their life savings, superannuation or redundancy payments, in the belief their funds were being properly managed,” stated an officer with the Financial and Cyber Crime Group.

Forex fraud is but one of several online investment scams that target consumers. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reports that a total of AU$11,033,635 was defrauded from Australians in February 2018 alone, which represents a troublesome growth of 8.7% from the previous month. Investment scams, which include forex, binary options and cryptocurrency scams, amounted to almost half of the total.

Forex Fraud Shouldn’t Come as a Surprise

Last November, for example, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the national financial regulator, imposed sanctions on a company called DanFX and its owner. DanFX was operating an unregistered forex investment platform that raised approximately AU$13 million from more than 200 unsuspecting investors.

DanFX’s owner was not new to the business. He was previously found guilty of using funds belonging to eight investors for his personal expenses. As a result, he was sentenced to two years in jail.

As more and more private investors flock to the forex market, the more and more scammers will attempt to target them. ASIC will continue to have its hands full as it attempts to protect the public from forex and other investment scams.