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SCAM: Binary Options Trading - a WARNING and a real-life tale.


I noticed that some spam about opening an online binary options brokerage account had been removed from the DC Forum and this prompted me to share the details of some pranking and research I did recently, regarding online BOT (Binary Options Trading).
If you don't know what BOT is, it doesn't matter, because the scammers typically don't refer to it as such in their introduction to the scam, but you will find it described in the PDF document from - Binary-Options-and-Fraud_0.pdf
If you read through that, then that's probably all you basically need to recognize and protect yourself from this type of scam.
However, for your additional amusement and further edification, I have described below one experience I have had with following up this scam.

The scam bait is usually something like a web advert about "Homeless man buys Ferrari", or similar eye-catching claims, and there's a picture of a dishevelled-looking guy with a long, unkempt beard and wearing a knitted bobble cap and there's a red Ferrari photoshopped in the background, or similar.
When Ï took the bait, I was taken to web pages variously entitled "The Aussie Method" or "The Kiwi Method" (so geographical location is noted or relevant for targetting) and where you are encouraged to find out how the homeless guy managed to do this. Following the line, you are given some brief "testimonial" videos where some very ordinary-looking but genuine-sounding and enthusiastic people say how they "couldn't believe it at first" when this guy (the name varies) told them that he would show them a free, no-cost way to make a lot of money, and if they didn't make money then he'd pay them $10,000 with no strings attached. So you can't lose - right?

Well, of course, it sounds too good to be true - which is precisely the warning signal that should alert one's feeble brain at that point to the likely impossibility of it being true and that it's therefore likely just another scam. But if you've just lobotomised yourself with an overriding sense of greed and "something-for-nothing" fantasy, then you won't get the warning and then at that point you're probably hooked, sucker.
So I followed down this fascinating rabbit burrow into a Wonderland of endless money and all of it to be mine. This entailed sitting through one of those dreary repetitive motivational sales spiels that scammers tend to use to ensure that, if you're not already lobotomised then you will be after following the spiel. It's all interesting stuff and I got excited with thoughts of "Gosh! What if this were really true/possible? My financial problems would be a thing of the past!
I imagined buying one of my older brothers a Ferrari to surprise him on his birthday. How cool would that be!?
Dragging myself back to Terra Firma, I waited for the spiel to end, then clicked through the steps to START this promised marvellous new episode of plenty in my life. I was excited. You know that feeling, deep in the sub-cockles? It's like how you might feel after listening to a presidential candidate's BS speech about how he/she is going to change everything for the better, if you'll only give them your vote, or something. Dammit! We just might be able to do this thing for the whole of Newfoundland! ... Lobotomy.

I arrived at a web page where it seemed I needed to open a secure broker account, or something, so I clicked to do this after giving the necessary details required - for "security", you understand:

* my name - a dummy persona (name) that I reserve for potential scammers/spammers;
* my email address - a dummy email account I reserve or use as a fire-bucket for potential scammers/spammers and potential file download viruses;
* my telephone number - a real prepay phone number that I reserve for use as a fire-bucket for Facebook spam txting and potential scammers/spammers, and I sometimes get my Thai wife to answer it and run through a specially-prepared script.
I should say at this point that only an ignorant and exceedingly naive, gullible and trusting person would be dumb enough to actually provide these very important personal ID details for real. - Don't be that person.

I wondered when the request was going to be made for my credit card number or bank account number (Yes, I know, amazing isn't it? People actually do obligingly give these details out.)
I soon found out.
A cheery new message appeared on-screen: (words to this effect)
"Nearly all done now, we are just setting up our free software that you will be using to give you signals when to make transactions in your account. We'll tell you how to do that, don't worry.
--- End quote ---
Phew! I needn't worry. They will hold my hand and the software will do all the complex stuff for me. How nice of them to do all this for me so that I can become rich!

Then: (words to this effect)
The last thing we need is to open a secure broker account in your name. For this we will need your credit card to make a deposit (USD250), which is how you open and enable the account. Our software will not work without your having a broker account.
--- End quote ---
Bingo! The screen appeared for me to enter my credit card details.
Of course one's now lobotomised brain doesn't ask itself the question: "Eh? How is that? I thought this was supposed to be free and at no cost!?"

Unfortunately, my persona is a dishevelled-looking homeless guy with a long unkempt beard and a knitted bobble cap, but who not only doesn't have a home, but also doesn't even have a credit rating, let alone a credit card. Times are tough.

What to do?    :tellme:

So I left the screen open in the Edge browser at that point and returned to where I had last left off  playing Fallout3 GOTY...
SpoilerUsing various hacks/cheats (via the console window) I have a really good (max karma) character called Rebecca2 and have elevated her to TGM (Total God Mode) with maxed S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points etc., over a million bottlecaps, a million bobby pins and with player.srm (ability to fix all one's damaged equipment etc. by 100% immediately). I had also hacked her the Alien Atomic Blaster and got the Chinese Stealth Armour - the latter you can't hack and can only tediously obtain one of by going through the whole ruddy Anchorage simulation quest in the simulator pod at the Outcast Brotherhood's HQ. My 6 y/o son loves playing through that one for me, but he keeps getting sidetracked by all the fun blasting of Chinese commies with the Pulse Rifle you can get under-the-counter from the Quartermaster if you speak the right words to him nicely like a boss. He also likes to amuse himself by using tcl (toggles collision mode ON/OFF) so he can sneak up on baddies by passing through intervening objects and materialise beside them before blowing them away.

My son seems to be a natural RPG player and also rather likes to play Skyrim Oblivion (which I have not played yet), and will sit for ages watching his sister play it, offering helpful suggestions from time to time (he also does that with me when I am playing Fallout 3 - he's very good and more sharp-eyed than I).
In Fallout 3 he likes to get/hack the splatter setting, so that when you shoot or strike a baddie their body parts splatter all over the place, a bit of intestine here, an eyeball there, oops- where's my brain?
He prefers the Pulse Rifle to the Atomic Blaster, because the Rifle does a really good splatter but the Blaster only leaves a pile of glowing ashes. My 15 y/o daughter worries that this may be causing him to become too violent, but I reckon that's an unproven fallacy from fusspots who don't like RPGs and that he's just a typical boy, and I'm expecting/hoping he'll grow out of the splatter phase. I also found the splatter effect amusing for a while but I prefer the Blaster (it's quieter with the G930 headset on, and lighter and more powerful than most other weapons, so agility and damage are good), though the ashes are sometimes hard to see/locate and search after you've finished a mêlée and dispatched umpteen baddies.

I digress. Two days later, the dummy phone rang, displaying an apparently local city number, but it could have been spoofed. I answered and an Indian-accented man's voice asked to speak to my dummy persona. I could hear what sounded like chickens clucking and a dog barking in the background and I wondered whether he wasn't actually in India. I cheerfully replied that I was he, and the scammer then asked me if I needed any help setting up the broker account as he'd noticed that my screen had been left open at that point and his job was to support users of the system. How helpful of him, I said, and then said that I didn't have a credit card but could direct transfer the money (USD250). He asked me how old I was. I had a cold and a touch of laryngitis and my voice was a bit croaky, so I figured I could pass for sounding like near 70, so I told him "68". I said that if I knew the account number to transfer the funds to, then I would do that. I asked him could I do that? There was a pause, and I asked him to please email me the account number to send the monies to and I'd do it straightaway. He agreed. I did not receive an email, and I would have been surprised if I had (emails leave tracks).
A couple of days later, the phone rang again, this time displaying a UK (London) number. An Indian-sounding woman's voice asked to speak to my dummy persona. I replied I was he. She also wanted to help me register my trading account. So helpful, these people. I asked her where she was - was it a helpdesk in India? She tartly replied that she was in London. I said I had been awaiting an email from the previous helpful support person with an Indian-accented voice, so I could direct credit the funds. She said she'd follow it up.

For several days after that, the phone rang roughly every day, called from a London code, and I did not answer it. No voicemail messages (no trail). Then it was every couple of days, then about 5 days after that, from an unknown international number. I got my wife to answer that one and she ran The Script:
For this, she puts on her dumbest-sounding halting Asian voice: "Herro? PAUSE... Herro? LISTEN... I solly, I not spik Engrish velly well. There no-one with that name you asking for use this phone - is just only me. I velly solly I no can help you. Maybe you have wrong numbah?" - with a rising inflection at the end. They don't usually call back after one of those.
She had me and my daughter in stitches, listening to her. It was hard to contain ourselves and not burst out laughing, but we are well-disciplined. We like prank calls.

Those <country_name> are an absolute nightmare...It's taken me ages to figure out wtf my other half has visited/downloaded/used that has caused that particuar crap to keep opening in a new browser window.

Web hosts need better methods of reporting obvious spam/scam sites so they can be removed/blacklisted.

@Stephen66515: Sounds like something has hijacked the browser. Probably a PUP loading the hijack with the ASK toolbar, or something.
Are you running a licenced copy of MBAM PRO (Malwarebytes) in real time? Shouldn't have happened if so.

In the past, I have used MBAM to scrub browser hijacks like that, off of other peoples' PCs. Worked a treat.

Belated update.
I did eventually get an email - from a rep of the actual broker/provider - Skyline Markets -
Seemed legit, but...

Big caveat at the bottom of their rather nifty web page: (my emphasis)
General Risk Warning: Trading in binary options carries a high level of risk and can result in the loss of all of your investment as such, binary options may not be appropriate for all investors. You should not invest money that you cannot afford to lose. Before deciding to trade, you should become aware of all the risks associated with binary options trading, and seek advice from an independent and suitably licensed financial advisor. For more information about the risks associated with trading binary, see our risk discloser. Under no circumstances shall we have any liability to any person or entity for (a) any loss or damage in whole or part caused by, resulting from, or relating to any transactions related to binary options or (b) any direct, indirect, special, consequential or incidental damages whatsoever. The site is owned by Capital Markets Services Limited with the registered address: Trust Company Complex, Ajeltake Road, Ajeltake Island, Majuro, Marshall Islands, MH96960. Clearing services provided by Capital Markets Services Limited, a UK company with the registered address: Office 3.11, Nwms Center 3rd Floor; 31 Southampton Row, London, England, WC1B 5HJ.

Location Disclaimer: Please note that residents of the United States or individuals holding a United States citizenship only are not permitted to sign up, deposit funds or trade and will be refused service. Binary Options trading in the United States is illegal. Skyline Markets is not supervised or affiliated by any regulatory agencies situated in North America.

--- End quote ---

On the Terms and Conditions page:
This Agreement shall be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the Marshal Islands excluding that body of law pertaining to conflict of laws. Any legal action or proceeding arising under this Agreement will be brought exclusively in courts located in the Marshal Islands, and the parties hereby irrevocably consent to the personal jurisdiction and venue therein. ...

--- End quote ---

So it seems to be a case of caveat emptor ("let the sucker buyer beware") all the way to potential bankruptcy.
"There be dragons..."    :o


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