An unknowing rural Manitoba couple is in the hole more than $180,000 after being duped in an investment scam featuring the unauthorized likeness of a well-known Canadian celebrity.
The Manitoba Securities Commission says one of the victims saw an online advertisement for “WM Option” and the promise of large returns. The pair was lured in after seeing a prominent Canadian public figure portrayed as having made money on the investment.
Over a period of nine months, the couple sent money via credit card and wire transfer, leading them to believe their investments were profitable and accessible.
Red flags were drawn when they noticed unauthorized charges on their credit card and found they were unable to withdraw funds from their account.
WM Option has since changed its name to Prime CFDs. Both companies are registered to the same parent corporation in Bucharest, Romania.
“Many of the Binary Options fraud sites we see are very professional in appearance,” says Jason Roy, senior investigator with MSC, and chair of the Canadian Securities Administrators’ (CSA) Binary Options Fraud Task Force. “It could be easy to think you’re dealing with a legitimate company, but there are many red flags if you know where and how to look.”
In a release, the victim — who wishes to remain anonymous — said, “Right off the hop, their only intention is to take your money, but I only became aware at the end when it was too late. They keep pushing you, again and again, to invest more and more.”
“If I could tell people one thing – be aware of the phone calls, of the ads online and on social media. If they promise big wealth in short order, watch out.”
The CSA launched a website in March to inform Canadians on Binary Options trading fraud.