The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), which regulates the Belgian financial markets, said on Monday that financial frauds in the first half of 2021 jumped by 60 percent compared to last year.
The regulator received 1,087 questions and reports from consumers regarding fraud and illegal offerings of financial products and services between January and June. 40 percent of all complaints were related to fraudulent online trading platforms, while 20 percent and 10 percent related to other investment fraud and credit card fraud, respectively.
The regulator stated that “the number of fraudulent online platforms offering trading in binary options, CFDs or forex, as well as cryptocurrencies, is increasing.” “One of the characteristics of these platforms is that they attract consumers with fake ads on social media.”
He also explained that the scammers were using images of French-speaking celebrities to run campaigns on social media to catch vulnerable investors. Moreover, app-based scams that offer offers related to virtual currencies or training to lure victims have also increased.
According to the FSMA, victims of financial fraud lost at least 42 million euros between May 2019 and June 2021.
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This happened while the FSMA was actively monitoring the markets, flagging suspicious platforms, and issuing public warnings.
Belgium is one of the very few countries that ban the retail sale and distribution of forex instruments, CFDs and crypto-derivatives. However, many platforms are still able to provide services to Belgian citizens.
The regulator recently launched alarms against several trading software companies, introducing expert advisors to automate trades. It also launched digital campaigns through various social media channels to educate investors about financial fraud.
“The various campaigns conducted by the FSMA have helped raise consumer awareness of fraud risks,” the FSMA added. “More and more victims know they should automatically alert the FSMA if they realize that their funds have been defrauded.”