How to avoid forex scams
In the UK investors lose millions of pounds every year to forex trading scams. Here we run through some of the most common forex scams and give tips on how to avoid them.
Forex scams tend to lure traders in with the promise of high returns on their investment with little to no risk.
From adverts on social media to setting up fake websites, fraudsters use lots of tactics to trick investors into handing over their money.
Here, we look at some of the most common forex trading scams and how to spot them.
What are forex trading scams?
Forex trading scams are when criminals trick people into investing in fraudulent foreign currency schemes.
They often promise once in a lifetime investment opportunities where traders can make high returns overnight.
The scammers often disappear after they’ve received payment, leaving investors with nothing.
Six common forex trading scams
Fraudsters use lots of sophisticated techniques to steal money through forex scams.
We’ve rounded up six common forex scams to watch out for.
Signal seller scams
Signal sellers are companies that offer suggestions about the best time to buy and sell currencies based on what they say is market analysis. They usually charge investors a fee for this information.
Signal seller scams are when companies charge investors without giving them any advice, or give some trade details and then disappear. They usually promise that their data will guarantee successful trades and high profits.
Forex robot scams
A forex robot is a software programme that can automatically buy and sell currency for you using an algorithm.
The software in legitimate forex robots can be tested and reviewed by an independent body to make sure it works.
Some criminals sell untested or fake software that makes trades at random and could cause investors to lose money. Always do as much research as possible, to give yourself the best chance of avoiding a robot scam.
Forex broker scams
Sometimes criminals pretend to be legitimate forex brokers or investment platforms that already exist to trick people into investing in non-existent forex funds.
Fraudsters will often use the name and registration number of an authorised forex broker. You should always check the FCA register and use only the contact details listed there. It is common for scammers to give reasons why these numbers are wrong such as being out of date.
Some scammers also set up identical websites to trick investors into paying them.
Forex pyramid scheme
Forex pyramid schemes focus on recruiting new members into investment groups that claim to offer advice and data that help them make successful forex trades.
Members of these schemes are charged a subscription fee and encouraged to recruit more people to join so that they can earn a commission.
In this scam, money is generated from membership fees rather than actual profits from forex trading. It is called a pyramid scheme because as new recruits join, you move higher up the pyramid and ‘earn’ more money.
When no more members can be recruited or membership starts to drop, the leaders usually close the scheme and take all of the money.
Managed forex account scams
Some investment companies offer managed forex accounts, where an expert forex trader invests currency on your behalf. And investors usually have to pay a fee or commission for this type of account.
Managed forex account scams are when fraudsters pretend to offer expert forex trading services but steal investors’ money instead. It's really important to research any financial service or platform before investing your money. Always check the FCA register to see if they are authorised to avoid being caught out.
Forex Ponzi scheme
Fraudsters use Forex Ponzi schemes to advertise non-existent forex funds that guarantee a high level of return in a short space of time.
They usually only ask for a small investment upfront and pay initial investors the promised returns to give the impression that the scheme is successful.
These investors are then encouraged to get their friends and family to invest in the scheme.
Once enough people have paid into the scheme, the scammers vanish with the money and leave investors with nothing.
Tips for identifying forex scams
Look out for these telltale signs that can help you identify a forex scam and avoid getting caught out.
- Unsolicited offers: If you’re contacted out of the blue about a forex investment opportunity, it’s likely to be a scam. Never give away your personal information or transfer money to the firm if they do.
- ‘Risk-free’ investing: Investing always comes with some level of risk so any company promising risk-free investment opportunities is likely to be a scam.
- Unrealistic returns: Forex scams often promise to make high returns from your initial investment that are too good to be true. Any company offering get-rich-quick investment opportunities is likely to be fraudulent.
- Time pressure: If a company tries to pressure you into investing quickly, it’s likely to be fraudulent. Some scammers even offer bonuses or discounts to persuade you to invest right away.
- Social media adverts: A growing number of scammers are using social media to advertise fraudulent investment opportunities. They often use images and videos of luxury items to trick people into making an investment.
How to spot forex broker scams
Almost all companies and individuals that offer, promote or sell financial services or products in the UK have to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Investing in an FCA authorised firm means that your money will be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
The FSCS protects investments of up to £85,000 if a firm goes bust or you received poor advice that caused you to lose money.
Unauthorised firms aren’t protected by the FSCS so it’s more difficult to recover your money if anything goes wrong with the firm.
It is a good idea to use the FCA register to check whether a forex broker is authorised by the FCA. If they’re not on the list, they could be a scam broker.
It’s also worth searching the FCA’s warning list of unauthorised firms to avoid too.
This isn’t an exhaustive list and the FCA regularly updates it with new companies to watch out for. And if you have any doubts about a forex broker you can contact the FCA to find out whether the company is legitimate and report any unauthorised firms. As mentioned previously, you also need to beware of cloned firms, where an authorised company’s details are being used by scammers.
What can I do if I have been scammed?
It’s important to act quickly if you think you’ve fallen for a forex scam.
You need to contact your bank as soon as possible if you have:
- Made a payment using a debit or credit card.
- Made a payment via bank transfer.
- Given away personal information.
You should also report the scam to Action Fraud and the FCA so that they can investigate and try to recover your money if possible. This can also help other people avoid falling victim to the same scams.
Image source: Getty Images
Brean is a personal finance writer at NerdWallet. She covers a range of financial topics and has written for consumer titles including Which?, Moneywise and The Motley Fool. Read more