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‘Binary options’ trading scams

Watch out - 509Watch out for…

‘Binary options’ trading scams

What’s the threat?

Scam websites and apps that offer ‘binary options’ trading, letting you bet on whether share prices and currencies will rise or fall. Thousands of pensioners have been tricked into investing their life savings into the rapidly growing schemes, which have been described as the biggest online scam you’ve never heard about. Many investors have said they’ve been unable to withdraw their money.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) said it received 305 reports of such scams in the 12 months to May 2016, the most recent period for which figures are available.

Some victims have lost a small fortune. Elizabeth Ablett, 70, from Derbyshire told The Independent the £40,000 she invested in Binary Uno has vanished. Nobody at the company would answer her calls.

The scammers, acting as genuine brokers, told her she was trading on the performance of gold and stocks, and that her money couldn’t be lost. They have increasingly targeted pensioners since April 2015, when changes to the law made it easier for people to access their funds. 

How can you stay safe?

Always be skeptical of trading and investment schemes that promise huge rewards for little risk. Also be aware of claims the alleged brokers make, including promises to match the money you’re investing. Some scammers try to fob you off by saying you can withdraw money only when you’ve made £1.5m.

UK pensioners are at particular risk because binary-trading sites, even legitimate ones, aren’t covered by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) watchdog. Typically the only way victims can get money back is if banks freeze the scammers’ accounts, though this is rare.

But authorities are fighting back. In early August Google and Apple removed hundreds of binary-options apps from their stores following a review by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).

NEw toolsNew tools

If the 1960s spy show Mission: Impossible was remade for the internet age, it could change the end of its famous opening message to “this download will self-destruct in five seconds”. Several online services now let you send files that the recipient can access for a limited time only, before they vanish forever. Firefox Send is the latest. It’s easy to use and very secure – at no point can Firefox see what’s in your file.

Visit the site below, click the blue button at the bottom (see screenshot), then select the file you want to send (or drag and drop it into the box). Next, click the ‘Copy to clipboard’ button to copy a link to the file, then paste it in an email (or messaging app). When your recipient receives the file, they need to click the blue Download button. The file will ‘self-destruct’ after one download or 24 hours, whichever comes first, making it an extremely safe way to send sensitive information. Although it’s a Firefox tool, it works in other browsers, including Chrome.

Firefox Send - https://send.firefox.com

Scam Watch!ScamWatch

Readers warn readers

New Netflix scam, old tricks

This is a warning to all Netflix subscribers. I use the service to watch the shows House of Cards, Breaking Bad and others. I recently received an email claiming to be from Netflix, which said: “we recently failed to validate your payment information”. It told me to click a link to verify my account. I didn’t do so, because I knew they were after my payment details. This kind of scam has been around for ages, so I didn’t fall for it. But other people might, particularly because it used the Netflix logo. I found more info at www.snipca.com/25121
Paul Turner

For more ways to protect your tech, try Computeractive magazine.

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