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Screenshot of a breaking news alert e-mail from Q2 2017
Jason Roy couldn’t believe the coincidence when he received a random automated call at his home at 6pm on April 11 from Central Option, a Binary Options broker offering an ‘amazing investment opportunity.’
It turns out that Jason Roy is a senior investigator with the Manitoba Securities Commission (MSC). He began a conversation with the self-described expert on Binary Options trading from Central Option. Roy then began gathering evidence while pretending to be a potential high-value investor.
Roy, ironically, is also a member of the Canadian Securities Administrator’s (CSA) special working group on combating Binary Options investment fraud.
I grabbed my notebook, and after confirming some details with an operator, I was connected to an individual identifying himself as Sean Bessi,” said Roy. “Bessi started to pitch me on the exact sort of illegal investments I’ve been investigating for the past two years. It was a bit surreal.
The Central Option rep claimed to be working from a Central Option office in Toronto, and that the firm maintains offices in London and Hong Kong. The MSC has since confirmed that the Central Option Toronto office does not exist. Central Option’s phone number is a VOIP number that forwards the call outside of the country.
The rep explained that Binary Options trading was “very safe,” and “not gambling.” Roy was offered a free education package and a $100 credit to do some trading. Roy was then walked through the whole trading process, repeatedly being suggested that he fund the new account by using his credit card or by wiring money.
Roy was also told he would not have to pay any taxes on any profits earned in the account.
The MSC on Wednesday alerted the public that Central Option is not authorized to offer investment services to residents of the Canadian province. The MSC warning comes less than a month after Central Option got a warning from another Canadian regulator, the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC).
Over the last two months, Manitobans have reportedly lost nearly $160,000 to unregistered, offshore binary options firms. The regulator suspects losses may be higher, as not all cases are reported.
For the full warning from MSC against Central Option, click here.