Two scam companies offering a binary options trading platform to members of the public have been shut down following an investigation by the Insolvency*Service.
Hampshire Capital Ventures Limited (Hampshire Capital), and its successor, Solaris Vision Ltd, a Bulgarian registered company, registration number 204122391, were wound up by the High Court on 18 October 2017. Hampshire Capital, followed by Solaris Vision Ltd, operated using the trading styles Magnum Options and Magnum Options EU, via a trading platform, using the websites www.magnumoptions.eu and latterly www.magnumoptions.com .
There were 41 complaints made to the police against Magnum Options in the period February 2016 to March 2017, with customers reporting losses of over ?750,000.
Those websites offered members of the public the opportunity to conduct binary options trading, which is a form of fixed-odds betting on movements in financial markets. The websites made numerous claims as to possible investment returns, with an 81% return rate per trade used as a headline throughout the websites.
Solaris Vision Ltd was placed into provisional liquidation by the High Court in London on 8 August 2017, on the application of the Insolvency Service, due to its concerns that the company were posing an ongoing risk to the public by operation of its fraudulent trading platform. The websites have not been accessible since 25 September 2017.
The investigation into both companies found that they had attracted customers through viral internet marketing, offering guaranteed fixed returns as set out throughout the above websites. Customers were not made aware of terms and conditions at the point of sale. Those terms and conditions were deemed to be onerous and unfair on customers, requiring them to trade 30 or 40 times their account balances in order to make withdrawals. Even when some customers did do so, no pay-outs were made. Customers who sought withdrawals or repayments of their deposits were mainly met with silence from the companies, who were only contactable by email after the time customers signed up for trading.
In other instances the companies had made unauthorised withdrawals from customers credit or debit cards, a point which Registrar Jones stressed was of serious concern during the winding up hearing on 18 October 2017.
Neither company cooperated with the investigation.
The companies targeted customers worldwide, all the while giving the impression that they operated out of the UK, by referring to UK trading addresses on the websites. Those addresses turned out to be accommodation addresses, for which neither company were authorised to use.
Hampshire Capital has previously come to the attention of public authorities in other countries, as follows: On 13 May 2016, the British Columbia Securities Commission published a notice, referring to ?Magnum Options, operated by Hampshire Capital Ventures Ltd? and advising residents to exercise caution when dealing with ?firms that are not registered to trade or advise in BC?.
On 14 December 2016, the Director of the Securities Division of the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan made a temporary order restraining Hampshire from carrying out certain activities.
On 16 January 2017, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission published a notice advising that Hampshire ?could be involved in a scam? and warning: ?Do not deal with this business as it is unlicensed in Australia?.