Fraudsters are misrepresenting themselves as IIROC-regulated investment dealers

The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) today warned Canadian investors not to be fooled by fraudsters attempting to illegally sell binary options under the guise of legitimate investment dealer firms regulated by IIROC.

“The investment firms and individuals regulated by IIROC must meet our high standards and deal fairly, honestly and in good faith with Canadian investors,” says IIROC President and CEO Andrew J. Kriegler. “Scammers are showing a reckless disregard for these very standards and are harming investors.”

Investors have recently contacted IIROC asking about organizations that claim to be regulated by IIROC, including organizations doing business as:

  • CDFtradeoption.com – operated by Westrade Holdings, Inc.
  • Globaloptionsmarket.net

These businesses are not regulated by IIROC. Binary options cannot be offered or sold to retail investors in Canada.  No IIROC dealers are authorized to sell binary options to retail investors in Canada. Investors contacted by anyone offering binary options should immediately report the incident to their provincial securities commissions. To learn more, visit: http://www.iiroc.ca/news/Pages/Useful-Links.aspx

Binary options typically originate as online scams, through ads on social media that point to seemingly legitimate websites. In some cases, victims receive unsolicited text messages or phone calls. To learn more about binary options fraud, visit: http://www.binaryoptionsfraud.ca/

Investors have also contacted IIROC about businesses selling bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, claiming to be regulated by IIROC – and they are not. Some ask investors for dates of birth, Social Insurance Numbers and banking information for the purposes of identity theft. IIROC reminds investors to safeguard their personal information.

Investors can confirm the investment dealer firms regulated by IIROC by visiting its website: http://www.iiroc.ca/industry/Pages/Dealers-We-Regulate.aspx

Investors can also verify the background, qualifications and any disciplinary history of individual investment advisors registered with IIROC by checking its free, easy-to-use AdvisorReport database: http://www.iiroc.ca/investors/knowyouradvisor/

“Protecting investors and upholding the integrity of Canada’s capital markets are IIROC’s highest priorities,” adds Kriegler. “We urge investors to avoid ‘get rich quick’ scams and to be informed and intelligent consumers when shopping for investments or investment advice.”

***

IIROC is the national self-regulatory organization that oversees all investment dealers and their trading activity in Canada’s debt and equity markets. IIROC sets high quality regulatory and investment industry standards, protects investors and strengthens market integrity while supporting healthy Canadian capital markets. IIROC carries out its regulatory responsibilities through setting and enforcing rules regarding the proficiency, business and financial conduct of dealer firms and their registered employees and through setting and enforcing market integrity rules regarding trading activity on Canadian debt and equity marketplaces.

SOURCE Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) – General News

Toronto police allege four men involved in ‘sophisticated’ mortgage fraud

TORONTO _ A guilty plea from a lawyer who had fled the country gave investigators the information they needed to lay charges against four men in a $17 million alleged mortgage fraud involving high-end Toronto properties, police said Tuesday.

The men, who are all from the Toronto area and between the ages of 45 and 53, face charges including fraud, conspiracy, forgery and money laundering, police said.

Police allege the men took part in a “sophisticated and complex” scheme involving “several high-end properties.”

Lawyer Golnaz Vakili’s flight from Canada in March 2013 was the reason it took five years to bring charges against the men, said Det. Alan Fazeli.

“She was the lawyer that was registering a lot of these things,” Fazeli said. “She was a missing piece.”

Vakili has since pleaded guilty to charges related to facilitating the frauds, he said.

Fazeli said numerous different methods were used in the alleged frauds, many of which involved properties in Toronto’s upscale Bridle Path area.

“One of the methods that was used was fake individuals and shell companies had taken mortgages on some of these properties, and for all of them they had produced fake insurance and title insurance,” he said.

Police would not say how many properties were involved in the alleged scheme.

Law Society of Upper Canada documents say Vakili “participated in a massive fraud spree and multiple dishonest acts involving 13 different properties over a two-year period” beginning in 2011.

“She prepared and acted upon fake documents in support of other clearly fraudulent transactions,” a Law society hearing document states. “She repeatedly lied to her clients. She gave false testimony before the Deputy Director of Land Titles. Her clients lost just under $14 million as a result of her activities.”

Police said the four men two from Toronto and two from Richmond Hill, Ont. were arrested and charged last month.

Woman angry she became face of Twitter bot fraud

Global News

Meet Cheryl Montgomery.

Her Twitter profile shows her as hailing from Marlton, N.J., and she tweets a great deal about U.S. politics.

Her profile picture looks a lot like Catherine Simpson, a Vancouver-based public relations professional.

That’s because Cheryl Montgomery is a Twitter bot created by someone who stole Simpson’s photo from an online news article and used it as a profile photo.

“I said, ‘No way,’” Simpson said. “I’m typing it in and there’s my picture.”

Carr told Global News he is investigating “the use of automated social media accounts in spreading political messages in the U.S.”

He said it’s remarkably easy to create a Twitter bot.

“You can go online and Google how to make a bot and have one online in two hours,” Carr said.

This particular bot seems to be in favour of former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton and opposed to U.S. President Donald Trump.

The tweets from Cheryl Montgomery were relatively tame, but social media expert Jesse Miller said bots with more radical messaging can cause problems for the real people used in Twitter profile photos.

“People have believed the individual was the one behind the keyboard and they’ve actively looked to find the person and unfortunately that internet vigilante justice piece kind of rears its ugly head,” he said.

Simpson noted that if the bot “was retweeting on Canadian politics or local politics I would’ve been much more concerned.”

She said she has contacted Twitter in the hopes of having the account suspended.

Twitter said it recently suspended 1,062 automated accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian “troll farm” that systematically disseminated content designed to influence public opinion during the U.S. presidential election.

A recent New York Times report exposed how some public figures have paid for bots to follow them on social media.

“I sent them my drivers licence,” Simpson said. “I’ve sent them all sorts of information but I’m not really having any luck with them.”

Experts say it’s important to flag such bots to Twitter, even if the process is frustrating. It’s also important to be selective about who can see your pictures online.

If not, your favourite shot might be the new face for a Twitter bot.

‘It’s a very unusual level of cheating,’ says Insurance Council of B.C.

Read more

B.C. government expects changes in 2018 to help collect fraud penalties, pursue criminal convictions

By GORDON HOEKSTRA 

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said Tuesday her government expects to take steps in the new year to improve fine collections and increase emphasis on court convictions of fraudsters.

Under consideration is whether more investigators are needed at the B.C. Securities Commission, for example, or more resources are needed to pursue criminal convictions, said James, who spoke to The Vancouver Sun’s editorial board.

“That’s a conversation the Attorney General (David Eby) and I have been having. If a case is recommended (for prosecution) it needs to be a priority. And that is a challenge in the judicial system, where, there are lots of issues and priorities coming forward.”

James has already asked the securities commission to provide proposals on how it will improve collection of fines from fraudsters.

Those are being reviewed now, she said.

Other ideas being examined include expanding information sharing with the Canada Revenue Agency, said James. “We are not closing the door on anything,” she said.

Some changes may need legislation, which could affect the timing of implementation, noted James.

The B.C. government’s actions follow a Postmedia investigation reported last month that found criminal convictions have been rare and less than two per cent of $510 million in fines issued to fraudsters by the securities commission had been collected in the past decade.

Among significant fraud cases where police have decided not to pursue an investigation are separate Ponzi schemes carried out by West Vancouver-resident Virginia Tan and Surrey resident Tom Williams.

In a 2016 securities commission judicial panel decision, Williams was banned from B.C.’s capital markets and fined $21.8 million for carrying out an $11.7-million Ponzi scheme involving 123 people. The RCMP told victims the case was not a big enough fraud and it did not have the resources for an investigation.

In an April 2017 settlement agreement with the B.C. Securities Commission, Tan was banned from B.C.’s capital markets and fined $3 million after admitting to carrying out a $30 million Ponzi scheme since 2011.

The Vancouver Police Department said it believed the case was better handled by the securities commission.

Neither Williams nor Tan have paid their fines.

Following the Postmedia investigation, one of the Tan Ponzi scheme victims, Peter Doetsch, who lost more than $4 million, said he contacted the North Vancouver RCMP to interest them in launching an investigation.

In a speech earlier this month to an anti-corruption conference in Vancouver, Eby, the attorney general, citing the Postmedia investigation, said there is no question B.C. has preferred to pursue fraud cases through securities commission investigations and penalties over police investigations and criminal charges.

There is some sense in that, said Eby, including that securities commission tribunals offer a faster process with more relaxed rules of evidence.

The downsides are obvious: penalties at securities commission tribunals are less serious than criminal convictions, said Eby.

“For a senior who has been cheated out of his or her retirement savings, a tribunal penalty seems like a shallow consequence, or a cost of doing business, for what makes a much bigger difference to their life than a petty theft that might result in a criminal record for the perpetrator,” he said.

Eby said he didn’t want to discount the difficulty of collecting penalties.

However, he said, with fewer than two per cent of penalties collected, and limited criminal charges going ahead, the message is obvious to those who might wish to participate in white-collar crime — you’ll have a better chance to get away with it in B.C.

This is not acceptable, Eby said, which is why he wants to increase the likelihood of fraud cases being treated with the prosecutions they deserve.

Source: Vancouver Sun

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