The British Columbia Securities Commission’s (BCSC) Enforcement Division is seeing a large number of websites targeting investors with packaged cryptocurrency or forex products that feature common fraud warning signs. These websites are cheap to build, often aggressively promoted on social media, and share two common traits: pre-set investment packages and unrealistic profits. The BCSC is warning the public that the people behind these websites are using sophisticated tactics to try and rope investors into schemes.
Investor Warning Videos: Crypto & Forex Schemes
To help people better understand how to identify and avoid online crypto and forex website schemes, we’ve put together two videos featuring Chris Thompson, a BCSC investigator, who has direct knowledge of how these sites work. In the videos, Chris shares his knowledge and experience, including examples of what he’s seen in his investigative work. He also gives some tips on what to look for in order to avoid falling for an online crypto or forex scam.
Video 1: High-Yield Crypto & Forex Websites
Video 2: Protect Yourself From Online Crypto & Forex Schemes
Do a Background Check Before Making an Investment
Investors are encouraged to check the registration of any person or company that claims they are qualified to sell investments. In general, if you are a retail investor who is purchasing securities (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, etc.), the person or firm selling and advising you on the investment product must be registered.
You can conduct a four-step background check to check whether not an individual or firm is registered, and if they’ve been disciplined by a securities regulator. Search names of individuals associated with the website looking for disciplinary history.
It’s good practice to check the BCSC’s Investment Caution List when researching an investment. This list notifies British Columbians about unqualified investments as well as unregistered activity originating from outside of the province that accept BC residents as clients.
Suspicious Websites & Online Investment Offers
Before making an investment, always examine any website offering investments thoroughly and do your own research. Be careful not to get caught up in the hype, especially when a website is offering extremely high rates of return. If an investment sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
You can look more deeply into the company and the people behind it. Do image searches to see if there are any red flags – for example, do the same individuals appear on other websites? Take a close look at documents and PDF file names too – for example, do they have dodgy or odd names? Chris gives a number of examples in the videos to illustrate how to do this kind of research.
Get Professional Help with an Investment Offer
If you are uncertain about an investment or website, it’s a good idea to talk to a financial professional who is independent of the offer. You can talk to a registered investment advisor, accountant, or lawyer. These professionals can help you make an informed decision, or point you in the right direction for the help you need. Getting caught up in an investment scheme can result in you losing some or all of your money. It’s important that you take your time and think about an investment before moving on it.
Contact BCSC Inquiries with Investment Questions or Concerns
We encourage all British Columbians to contact the BCSC if you think you’ve invested in a scam, or suspect a website or individual is promoting a suspicious investment.
Phone: 604-899-6854 or 1-800-373-6393 (Toll free)
E-mail: [email protected]
You can also file a complaint or submit a tip anonymously using the BCSC’s online complaint form. InvestRight.org is the BCSC’s investor education website. Subscribe to receive email updates from BCSC InvestRight.