Veronica Birman, of Birman Law Firm has filed a $10 million lawsuit on behalf of Hong Kong resident Sik Mun Simone Loke against the owner of Toro Media – the marketing entity of binary options brand OptionsXO. The claim was filed in the Tel Aviv District Court and goes into in-depth detail about her 18 month ordeal. Toro Media owner and CEO Tomer Levi, and several employees are being sued on behalf of Loke.
Learn to Spot the Warning Signs of Investment Fraud
It is an all too familiar story to anyone who has been following the binary options industry recently. The difference in this case, aside from the sheer amount of money in question, are the steps being taken to try and retrieve the money that she claims was defrauded from her.
Victims of binary options fraud usually become suspicious when they are unable to withdraw the funds that appear in their account, this is how the vast majority of people find out that all is not what it seems.
Binary Options Trading Fraud
Simone Loke however, became suspicious when she was unable to make a further deposit. Loke had two money transfers stopped by The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department; the deposits were being sent through the third-party payment processor, Counting House, a company that was blacklisted and defined by the U.S. Treasury as a criminal organization. After so many previous payments to the same company, Loke feared the worst: she had lost everything.
That was until she was connected with Birman Law, a boutique Israeli law firm boasting previous experience in retrieving money for victims of binary options fraud. Legal action can often only be taken in the same jurisdiction as the defendants, and the location in which they operate from. In this case both Toro Media & OptionsXO are Israeli companies, based out of Herzliya.
The Long Con
Over the last decade, the unregulated binary options industry has snowballed into a global phenomenon, gaining negative worldwide attention and portraying Israel as a hub for criminal activity. Several hundred of these companies have sprung up all over central Israel, bringing in significant money and employing thousands of workers. The helped Israel’s binary options brokers to earn the nickname, “the Wolves of Tel Aviv.” According to an article in The Times of Israel, it is estimated that the industry profits billions USD annually.
Loke was contacted after filling in her details on a paid advertisement with the headline “The Secret Millionaires Society Program” that offered 90% profit on a $250 investment. According to Loke, the first contact was professional and understanding, with the “broker” seeking a small initial investment of $250 to activate the account.
Loke then began being contacted by a series of representatives urging her to invest in binary options. The first account manager who contacted her went by the apparent alias of Jordan Richmond who allegedly persuaded her to open an account with OptionsXO. According to the lawsuit filed by Birman Law, a succession of account managers, who presented themselves as experienced investment brokers, convinced Ms. Loke to invest large sums of money, promising her that she would make a fortune. The lawsuit describes how the fraud led Ms. Loke into believing OptionsXO was an established brokerage firm, explaining,“we are not only talking about fraud and deception of inconceivable sums, but also a complex and extensive operation created by the defendants in order to hide behind straw companies, false and fictional names and identities, and all this in order to persuade the plaintiff to fall into a trap in which they buried her and which to her regret she fell into”, states the 66-page petition.
If It Feels to Good to Be True, It Probably Is…
From the outside, this is where suspicions would begin to arise, however, it is understandable why Loke trusted these people. After all, she could always log into her account and see her “investment” was making money.
The more common story, such as what happened with Marisha Young, is that this process of invest-to-earn continues until the client tries and is unable to withdraw funds. Alarm bells start to ring for the client, and on the side of the binary options company, this is where their real work begins. Stalling, misrepresenting and passing over to new brokers. Anything to delay a withdrawal. Marisha was told that her previous account manager had suffered a double heart attack and had passed away, hence being transferred to a new broker, who kindly informed her that she lost her investment as it was all traded speculatively. Needless to say, the stories and excuses given to Marisha were not truthful.
The end result seems to be the same. Passed around between agents and told elaborate stories until the client is either ignored completely, or is informed that their investment was traded away, along with their money. The conclusion is always the same – the client loses everything.
The law firm at the center of it all. Birman Law has quickly gained a reputation as the law firm for victims of binary options fraud, even testifying before Israeli Parliament on the state of the binary options industry. The impactful work of Birman Law is a testament to what you can achieve whilst being on the right side of the law and more importantly, doing good.
Birman Law has made it their mission to pursue and bring down the unregulated and fraudulent Israeli based binary options operations that according to head lawyer Veronica Birman, are a “stain on the country that needs to be bleached clean”.
Recently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested an Israeli national & binary options CEO as she landed in JFK airport on alleged charges of wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, carrying up to 40 years in a federal prison.
It seems as though the tide is turning and the regulators, as well as the authorities, are catching up to what can only be described as an online fraud epidemic.
Play It Safe with Your Investments
This type of investment fraud example can serve as an example for all of us. The more important moral of the story is to only deal with reputable investment firms. Second, ensure you really understand what you are investing in before committing any more towards the investment. Third, if something seems too good to be true, it likely is. Walk way and invest in something else!