'The biggest scam on Earth' defrauds Canadians looking for investments
Jessica Piche, W5 Associate Producer
Published Saturday, January 20, 2018 7:00AM EST
A grieving family is warning Canadians about what experts call the largest investment swindle on Earth.
Fred and Maria Turbide ran a small but successful business in Edmonton.
With dreams of a comfortable retirement, Fred purchased an online educational package to learn how to invest. Within six weeks, he had lost some $300,000.
Maria knew he was investing some of their savings, but wasn’t aware just how much. She said he seemed tired and overworked.
“He was crying one day and says, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t do this anymore.’”
Maria said she thought he was just talking about work. But on December 21, 2016, Fred died by suicide.
In a letter he left behind, he asked his family to "go after 23Traders."
23 Traders is one of hundreds of binary option companies that have swindled billions of dollars from people around the globe.
The scheme involves short-term wagers on stocks on currencies. Investors are encouraged to keep betting more money in order to win big.
But the winnings are a façade. There is no investment.
“There are no trades,” said former binary options broker Austin Smith. “There’s no anything. It doesn’t exist. It’s just a platform, like a video game.”
The only winners in this scheme are the fraudsters, said Smith.
Jason Roy heads up the Canadian task force combatting this swindle.
“We’ve had over 800 complaints through the [Canadian Securities Administrators] over the last year,” said Roy. “Those stories are devastating.”
Binary options are now illegal in Canada, but Roy said Canadians need to remain vigilant.
“It’ll be the same individuals,” said Roy. “Same scam, but just a different product.”
Before making any investment, check here to ensure the company is registered.
Watch Avery Haines' documentary 'Going for Broke' on Saturday, January 20, 2018 on CTV’s W5 at 7pm.