Despite having strict regulations, Singapore is certainly not free of forex scams. Let's find out the different stories of forex scams in Singapore and how to avoid them.
Forex trading is highly popular in many regions. Not only in Europe and the United States but also in Asian countries. Singapore, in particular, has been perfectly situated as one of the major financial hubs for online trading. The daily forex trading turnover is even said to be the largest in the area and comparable to both New York and London. As a result, it is unsurprising that a number of reputable forex brokers have flocked to this tiny island of just under six million people.
All forex brokers that wish to operate in Singapore must be authorized by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) as the financial regulatory body in the country and must adhere to strict operating standards and capital requirements. The primary aim of the MAS is to protect consumers from fraud, corruption, and shady business practices.
But even so, MAS couldn't fully guarantee that traders won't be exposed to fraudulent activities. When it comes to forex trading scams, Singapore is just as vulnerable as any other country. Thus, every trader must understand that they are not completely immune to scams and that it's important to be able to spot and avoid them.
Singapore Forex Scams Stories
Despite being known for its strict law enforcement, Singapore has faced multiple attacks from a host of unregulated, offshore businesses. The small island may be regarded as a paradise for some people, but the sheer number of high-profile individuals residing there may also attract scammers and other criminals.
Generally, there are various types of scams that happened within the borders of Singapore. One of the most notable cases is the fraudulent forex exchange pyramid scheme that took place in 2014-2015. It started in early 2014 when a local forex broker Singliworld invited customers to invest in the "Singliforex" scheme. The program claimed to grant returns as high as 13% a month and conservative returns from 2% a month in order to make it seem attractive and realistic at the same time.
To participate, customers must open a trading account in a forex broker appointed by Singliworld, namely Triumph Global from March 2014 to April 2015. The appointed broker later changed to Union Markets from May 2015 onwards. After that, investors were required to make deposits but not allowed to perform their own trades. Instead, Singliworld told them that the trades would be conducted by professional traders on their behalf.
The truth is that there were no professional traders, no real trading, and no returns. Triumph Global and Union Markets were not connected to any liquidity provider to trade foreign currency and did not have any market license to carry out leveraged forex trading. On top of that, Singliforex was operating as a pyramid scheme, with investors being told that they could earn money by inviting others to invest in the program as well. About 2,000 investors are victims of this scheme.
See Also: 5 True Stories of Forex Broker Scams
Another scam story came from a Singaporean resident James (not his real name) who was scammed by a fake broker. It began with a text from someone that claimed to be James' friend living in Hong Kong. Long story short, James was persuaded by this "friend" to open a trading account in what he believed to be a trading house in Hong Kong. He even got a questionnaire to ensure that he knew the risks of online trading.
James started by depositing $20,000, but he was told to buy cryptocurrency as the money could be transferred instantly. This is not exactly what trading houses typically operate, but he didn't seem to mind as he was making quite a fortune with his trades. At one point, he tried to withdraw $100,000 and the money was immediately sent to his bank account.
As he began to trust the company, he decided to deposit $800,000 into his trading account. After a little while, he managed to turn the money into $8 million. Ecstatic, he tried to withdraw his hard-earned money, but his request was denied and he was told that he couldn't withdraw because he had not paid the taxes for his gain. To verify the matter, he contacted the Hong Kong tax authorities and figured that his investments were not recorded anywhere. He also tried calling his "friend" but the number was no longer in use.
How to Avoid Forex Trading Scams
Forex scams can come in various methods and they can either be simple or complicated. Some might directly offer fake promotions to traders, most of which involve unrealistic returns and promises. Scams might also come in the form of fake brokers or so-called experts who offer to trade on your behalf. Again, they usually offer unrealistic results in a relatively short time and zero-risk investment.
While forex trading can indeed generate a lot of money, there is no guarantee that it will happen every single time. Those who tell you otherwise may well turn out to be scammers.
That being said, it is necessary to know how to spot and protect yourself from scammers, instead of just relying on the authorities. According to CFTC, here are some of the red flags that you could use to identify shady businesses:
- Give you high promises and claim that in forex trading, there is no such thing as a "bear" market.
- Brokers that tell you to trade in the interbank market.
- Firms that ask you to send money quickly via the internet, by mail, cryptocurrency, or others.
- Unclear background information about the company.
Now that you are able to spot the scams, you'll need to do the following things before you start trading:
- Only entrust a regulated broker to carry out all of your trading activities. Make sure that the broker is licensed by a reputable body like MAS. You could double-check the validity by visiting the regulator's official website and searching for the company on the Financial Institutions Directory.
- Check if the broker's website is legit. Ensure that it's not a fake or simply a copy of another broker's website.
- Be careful of brokers or individuals that promise you high trading profits, huge bonuses, or any kind of promotions that sound too good to be true. It's easy to fake things online these days, so don't immediately trust what you see, even if it's a screenshot of a profitable trade, testimony, and such. Scammers might only show you their profits and hide their losses within a period of time. In some cases, they may even show charts from demo platforms that certainly don't reflect real trading situations.
- The more you know, the better. Don't make any decisions based on limited information. Ask for background details and full disclosure of the profits and losses. If the answer remains vague, you might want to reconsider your choice.
- Look up the broker's reviews from other users. Check if there are issues relating to customer service, especially when it comes to money withdrawals.
- Consider trading with a demo account before opening a real trading account. You might also want to consult with an expert to help you develop a sophisticated investment portfolio.
What to Do If You Get Scammed
Maybe the tips above are getting to you a little bit late and you just realized that you've been scammed. In this case, you can try contacting the authority. In Singapore, forex trading is under the regulation and protection of MAS, so you are allowed to report any suspected trading scams or fraudulent activities that take place in Singapore. If you have invested in an international brokerage and feel that you might have been scammed, you could report the case to the governing body in that country.
Aside from that, you can also report forex scams to other authorities as a form of criminal activity or cybercrime. In Singapore, fraudulent activities can be reported to the local police with details. You can contact the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000 or you can make an online report at police.gov.sg/iwitness.
Despite being a high-tech center and having strict regulations, Singapore is certainly not immune to forex trading scams and fraudulent activities. As you try to find more ways to make extra money, you may come across a forex scam. Therefore, it's highly important to do your research properly before entering the forex industry.
Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Be aware of the danger signs that we've explained in this article and don't easily trust anyone without getting a clear picture of who they really are. To minimize risks, try to invest in regulated firms only and be wary of any third-party tools offered. Lastly, if you feel like you have been scammed, do not hesitate to file a report to the police, MAS, or other authorities. Who knows, maybe you will save not only yourself but also others.