Following a series of complaints, South Africa’s Financial Services Board (FSB) has found that a local forex trading platform has been operating even though it never conducted any trading. Approximately 3,000 people had paid 52 million rand into what they believed was a legitimate brokerage but, in reality, was a Ponzi scheme.
The FSB has become increasingly concerned by the proliferation of online forex trading sites being advertised in South African and will continue its investigation. Most of these bogus brokerages are based offshore where they are difficult to trace. The most prominent of them turned out to be registered in the island microstate of Vanuatu, where financial regulation is minimal. To camouflage their true location they operate behind South African phone numbers.
It is illegal for South Africans to use credit cards to transfer funds to any offshore investment account, so the deliberate obfuscation of their location means that their victims unknowingly violate the law.
One defrauded investor was quoted as saying:
“They are professional scammers. With the first trades you will make a profit ̶ on their advice of course ̶ and they encourage you to deposit more money with guaranteed profits. Once your account reaches more than $30,000, they ask you to open a position that they know will and you will liquidate your account. When the margins are very thin they ask you to deposit additional funds to rescue your account. That is how they defraud your money in a legitimate way. Judging by the comments so far, their modus operandi is the same: deposit more money until your account gets liquidated. You don’t get out of this scam alive. You lose all your life savings.”
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