Unregulated brokers and Binary Options scams lead ASC retail investor risks for 2017

Canadian securities regulator the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) has issued its list of Top 5 risks for retail investors and traders in 2017.

And, it includes a number of issues which have been at the forefront of the news of late among some of the other provincial securities and financial regulators across the country.

Both the BCSC and OSC, two of the other leading financial watchdogs in Canada, have been active naming and warning against specific Forex and Binary Options brokers known to be targeting Canadian residents.

We also reported last year on Manitoba’s MSC, which warned that binary broker Central Option had been calling one of its own employees marketing binary options, claiming to be working from a Central Option office in Toronto, and that the firm maintains offices in London and Hong Kong.

The ASC’s Top 5 risks for retail investors heading into 2017 are:

#1 Unregistered sources. Many people consult restaurant reviews before choosing to dine out to avoid disappointment or wasting their money. At the very least, the same consideration and due diligence should be paid to a potential investment opportunity. With limited exceptions, any firm or individual selling securities or offering investment advice in Alberta must be registered and there is a free and easy way to check at www.aretheyregistered.ca.

#2 Binary options scams. This top risk also made the list in 2016 and you can “bet” on the fact that there are still no registered binary options dealers in Alberta or Canada in 2017. Binary options are essentially “bets” on whether the value of an asset will increase or decrease in a fixed time frame. For more on binary options, watch this financial fraud explainer video:

#3 Offshore investments. If an investment opportunity involves sending funds to a company with “offices” overseas, it’s a red flag. When investors send their money overseas and something goes wrong, it can be difficult or impossible to get the money back, and unfortunately regulators and agencies in Canada can do little to help.

#4 Deceptive online advertising. Like many marketing and advertising companies, scam artists know the power of social/online media as a promotion tool and use this knowledge to their advantage. They may use photos of celebrities in their ads (without permission), who appear to be endorsing the investment as a tactic to lure people in who believe that a well-known celebrity supports the investment.

#5 Being lured by “the next big thing”. While investing in an emerging industry might sound appealing, it’s important to use caution before buying into the hype. There are usually very little facts available on these new companies, which makes it easy for scam artists to spread false information.

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