The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), which regulated the Belgian financial markets, said on Monday that the financial frauds in the first half of 2021 jumped by 60 percent when compared to last year.
The regulator has received 1,087 questions and reports by consumers concerning fraud and unlawful offers of financial products and services between January and June. 40 percent of total complaints were with fraudulent online trading platforms, while 20 percent and 10 percent related to other investment frauds and credit card fraud, respectively.
“The number of fraudulent online platforms that offer trading in binary options, CFDs or forex, as well as cryptocurrencies, continues to grow,” the regulator stated. “One of the characteristics of such platforms is that they attract consumers via fake advertisements on social media.”
It further detailed that fraudsters were using photos of French-speaking celebrities to run social media campaigns to trap vulnerable investors. Furthermore, app-based scams also increased that make offers relating to virtual currencies or training to lure victims.
According to the FSMA, financial fraud victims lost at least 42 million euros between May 2019 and June 2021.
Campaigns Against Frauds
This happened while the FSMA actively monitored the markets, flagged shady platforms, and issued public warnings.
Belgium is one of the very few countries that prohibits the retail sale and distribution of over-the-counter forex instruments, CFDs, and crypto derivatives. However, many platforms still manage to offer services to Belgian citizens.
The regulator recently sounded alarms against various trading software firms, offering Expert Advisors to automate trades. It also launched digital campaigns across various social media channels to aware investors of financial frauds.
“The various campaigns conducted by the FSMA have helped raise consumer awareness of the risk of fraud,” the FSMA added. “More and more victims know they should automatically alert the FSMA if they realize they have been defrauded of their money.”
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