FTrade – Scam or Not

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Is forex trading real or a scam?

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I’am just back from one of these Greg Secker “Learntotrade” events as I really had to see for myself what the fuss was about, since Iam ramping up providing education at request and finding this offering increasingly quoted in conversation from time to time. Hmm..

After 45 minutes, I decided to leave.

I wouldn’t say what he is doing is a scam per se, hes quite direct about what he is offering too but to any market participant of worth or well educated person of self-worth it is absolutely intellectually dishonest nonsense. Trying to offer a package that allows you to “sit back and reap the pr.

How to Avoid Forex Trading Scams

The foreign exchange (forex) market is huge, with an average daily trading volume of more than $5 trillion, including currency futures and options. It’s also not very well regulated. That means the opportunity still exists for many forex scams that promise quick fortunes through “secret trading formulas,” algorithm-based “proprietary” trading methodologies, or “forex robots” that do the trading for you.

Before getting involved in forex trading, perform your own due diligence by visiting the Background Affiliation Status Information Center (BASIC) website created by the National Futures Association (NFA), the futures and options industry’s self-regulatory organization, to learn how to choose a reputable broker and avoid scams. Before dealing with the public, every company or person who wants to conduct off-exchange forex business is required to become a member of the NFA and to register with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the government agency that oversees futures and options trading. You can search BASIC to find out what regulatory actions, if any, have been taken against a particular individual or firm.

Signal Sellers

One of the challenges a rookie forex investor faces is determining which operators to trust in the forex market and which to avoid. Signal sellers are one group of operators to consider carefully.

A signal seller basically offers a system that purports to identify favorable times for buying or selling a currency pair. The system may be manual, in which case the user must enter trading info, or it may be automated to put through a trade when a signal occurs.

Some systems rely on technical analysis, others rely on breaking news, and many employ some combination of the two. But they all purport to provide information that leads to favorable trading opportunities. Signal sellers usually charge a daily, weekly, or monthly fee for their services.

A frequent criticism of signal sellers is that if it were really possible to use their system to beat the market, why would the individual or firm that has this information make it widely available? Wouldn’t it make more sense to use this incredible signaling system to make huge profits for themselves?

Other analysts distinguish between known scammers and more reputable sources of market information that offer a well-thought-out signaling service.

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Behind these opposing views lies a larger difference of opinion about whether anyone can predict the next move in a trading market. This fundamental disagreement won’t be settled any time soon.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Eugene Fama proposes in his well-regarded efficient market hypothesis that finding these kinds of momentary market advantages really isn’t possible.

His economist colleague Robert Shiller, who’s also a Nobel Prize winner, believes differently, citing evidence that investor sentiment creates booms and busts that can provide trading opportunities.

The best way to determine if a signal seller can benefit you is to open a trading account with one of the better-known forex brokers and enter practice trades that don’t involve real money based on the signals. Be patient, and with time, you’ll determine whether predictive signaling works for you or doesn’t.

Phony Forex Investment Management Funds

In the past few years, forex management funds have proliferated. Most of these are scams. They offer investors the “opportunity” to have their forex trades carried out by highly-skilled forex traders who can offer outstanding market returns in exchange for a share of the profits.

The problem is, this “management” offer requires the investors to give up control over their money and to hand it over to someone they know little about other than the hyped-up and often completely false record of success available on the scammers’ website and brochures.

Investors often end up with nothing, while the scammers use investors’ funds to live high on the hog.

A good rule of thumb in the forex market, as with other areas of investment, is that if it sounds too good to be true, such as annual returns of more than 100 percent, for example, it’s almost certainly a scam.

Dishonest Brokers

Although the forex market is not entirely unregulated, it has no single, central regulating authority. The forex spot market, however, which accounts for the majority of trades, is completely unregulated. Unsurprisingly, some forex brokers do not deal fairly with their customers and, in some instances, defraud them.

Aside from searching the BASIC website, you can help yourself avoid a bad broker by dealing with one that also handles stock market trades and so is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). While the forex trade itself may be unregulated, a broker subject to SEC and FINRA oversight probably wouldn’t risk its license for other securities by defrauding its forex customers.

The Balance does not provide tax, investment, or financial services and advice. The information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance, or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal.

How to Spot a Forex Scam

The spot forex market trades over $5 trillion a day, including currency options and futures contracts. With this enormous amount of money floating around in an unregulated spot market that trades instantly, over the counter, with no accountability, forex scams offer unscrupulous operators the lure of earning fortunes in limited amounts of time. While many once-popular scams have ceased—thanks to serious enforcement actions by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the 1982 formation of the self-regulatory National Futures Association (NFA)—some old scams linger, and new ones keep popping up.

Back in the Day: The Point-Spread Scam

An old point-spread forex scam was based on computer manipulation of bid-ask spreads. The point spread between the bid and ask basically reflects the commission of a back-and-forth transaction processed through a broker. These spreads typically differ between currency pairs. The scam occurs when those point spreads differ widely among brokers.

Key Takeaways

  • Many scams in the forex market are no longer as pervasive due to tighter regulations, but some problems still exist.
  • One shady practice is when forex brokers offer wide bid-ask spreads on certain currency pairs, making it more difficult to earn profits on trades.
  • Be careful of any offshore, unregulated broker.
  • Individuals and companies that market systems—like signal sellers or robot trading—sometimes sell products that are not tested and do not yield profitable results.
  • If the forex broker is commingling funds or limiting customer withdrawals, it could be an indicator that something fishy is going on.

For instance, some brokers do not offer the normal two-point to three-point spread in the EUR/USD but spreads of seven pips or more. (A pip is the smallest price move that a given exchange rate makes based on market convention. Since most major currency pairs are priced to four decimal places, the smallest change is that of the last decimal point.) Factor in four or more additional pips on every trade, and any potential gains resulting from a good trade can be eaten away by commissions, depending on how the forex broker structures their fees for trading.

This scam has quieted down over the last 10 years, but be careful of any offshore retail brokers that are not regulated by the CFTC, NFA, or their nation of origin. These tendencies still exist, and it’s quite easy for firms to pack up and disappear with the money when confronted with actions. Many saw a jail cell for these computer manipulations. But the majority of violators have historically been United States-based companies, not the offshore ones.

The Signal-Seller Scam

A popular modern-day scam is the signal seller. Signal sellers are retail firms, pooled asset managers, managed account companies, or individual traders that offer a system—for a daily, weekly, or monthly fee—that claims to identify favorable times to buy or sell a currency pair based on professional recommendations that will make anyone wealthy. They tout their long experience and trading abilities, plus testimonials from people who vouch for how great a trader and friend the person is, and the vast wealth that this person has earned for them. All the unsuspecting trader has to do is hand over X amount of dollars for the privilege of trade recommendations.

Many of signal-seller scammers simply collect money from a certain number of traders and disappear. Some will recommend a good trade now and then, to allow the signal money to perpetuate. This new scam is slowly becoming a wider problem. Although there are signal sellers who are honest and perform trade functions as intended, it pays to be skeptical.

“Robot” Scamming in Today’s Market

A persistent scam, old and new, presents itself in some types of forex-developed trading systems. These scammers tout their system’s ability to generate automatic trades that, even while you sleep, earn vast wealth. Today, the new terminology is “robot” because the process is fully automated with computers. Either way, many of these systems have never been submitted for formal review or tested by an independent source.

Examination of a forex robot must include the testing of a trading system’s parameters and optimization codes. If the parameters and optimization codes are invalid, the system will generate random buy and sell signals. This will cause unsuspecting traders to do nothing more than gamble. Although tested systems exist on the market, potential forex traders should do some research before putting money into one of these approaches.

Other Factors to Consider

Traditionally, many trading systems have been quite costly, up to $5,000 or more. This can be viewed as a scam in itself. No trader should pay more than a few hundred dollars for a proper system today. Be especially careful of system sellers who offer programs at exorbitant prices justified by a guarantee of phenomenal results. Instead, look for legitimate sellers whose systems have been properly tested to potentially earn income.

Another persistent problem is the commingling of funds. Without a record of segregated accounts, individuals cannot track the exact performance of their investments. This makes it easier for retail firms to use an investor’s money to pay exorbitant salaries; buy houses, cars, and planes or just disappear with the funds. Section 4D of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 addressed the issue of fund segregation; what occurs in other nations is a separate issue.

An important factor to always consider when choosing a broker or a trading system is to be skeptical of promises or promotional material that guarantees a high level of performance.

Other scams and warning signs exist when brokers won’t allow the withdrawal of monies from investor accounts, or when problems exist within the trading platform. For example, can you enter or exit a trade during volatile market action after an economic announcement? If you can’t withdraw money, warning signs should flash. If the trading platform doesn’t operate to your liquidity expectations, warning signs should flash again.

The Bottom Line

Conduct due diligence on the forex broker you’re considering by going to the Background Affiliation Status Information Center (BASIC), created by the NFA. Many changes have driven out the crooks and the old scams and legitimized the system for the many good firms. However, always be wary of new forex scams; the temptation and allure of huge profits will always bring new and more sophisticated scammers to this market.

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