The Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) is warning Alberta investors of several unregistered binary option companies promoting online trading platforms (via their websites) that are currently soliciting Albertans, specifically in Edmonton and surrounding areas.
The ASC has recently received multiple complaints from Alberta residents who have lost significant sums of money investing through binary options trading platforms.
Binary options are essentially “bets” as to whether the value of an asset will increase or decrease in a fixed (and often very short) period of time. Investors face only a few possible outcomes when the option matures; this is why binary options are sometimes referred to as “all or nothing” options.
Individuals and companies dealing in securities and derivatives in Canada are required to register with the securities regulator in each province or territory where they do business. Even though an entity may be located elsewhere, dealing to clients who are residents in Alberta for a business purpose requires registration unless an exemption from the requirement applies. Registration helps to protect investors because securities regulators will only register firms and individuals that meet certain proficiency, integrity and solvency requirements.
Despite listing Canadian contact information, many binary options trading platforms are based overseas in countries such as Ukraine, Cyprus and Belize, and the companies managing these platforms are often not registered to conduct business or offer investment advice in Canada.
Being solicited to invest by companies operating offshore is a common red flag of investment fraud, and investing with these companies can be risky. Once funds are offshore, it can be nearly impossible for an investor to recover their money.
The ASC is aware of the following unregistered trading platforms currently soliciting Albertans:
- VIP Binary Options
- RB Options
- Options XD
- GT Options
- No 1. Options
- Optek Canada
This is not a complete list. Naming the companies above does not mean that they have breached any Alberta securities laws. However, the companies above are not registered in Alberta and are unable to rely on an appropriate exemption from the registration requirement.
If you are considering an investment opportunity through a company that is not registered, be sure to understand whether the company is complying with applicable securities laws. The ASC encourages all investors to check the registration status of any person or company selling investments to Canadians using the Canadian Securities Administrators’ National Registration Search database (www.aretheyregistered.ca).
The ASC is the regulatory agency responsible for administering the province's securities laws. It is entrusted with fostering a fair and efficient capital market in Alberta and with protecting investors. As a member of the Canadian Securities Administrators, the ASC works to improve, coordinate and harmonize the regulation of Canada's capital markets.
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