Belgium’s FSMA receives 998 notifications about illegal financial services in 2018

Maria Nikolova

The bulk of these enquiries concerned cryptocurrency-related fraud and pyramid schemes.

Belgium’s Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) has earlier today published its Annual Report for 2018, with the number of enquiries handled by the regulator growing compared to the preceding year.

In 2018, FSMA received 2,066 consumer notifications related to financial services matters. This is 20% higher than in 2017, when the regulator received 1,710 questions and complaints. Nearly half (998) of all such enquiries in 2018 concerned fraudulent schemes and illegal offers of financial products and services. They concerned mainly cryptocurrencies and pyramid schemes.

FSMA has also continued to receive notifications about binary options and CFDs but their number has declined. Let’s recall that since 2016, Belgium has prohibited the marketing of CFDs and binary options to consumers. This was before ESMA introduced its product intervention measures.

In 2018, the Belgian regulator received 334 enquiries and complaints related to cryptocurrencies. The sum of declared losses related to such fraud last year was EUR 4.5 million but that, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg as the bulk of such losses are not reported.

Belgium’s FSMA started compiling a “blacklist” of fraudulent cryptocurrency websites in February 2018. The FSMA noted back then that it received numerous complaints about trading platforms that claim to be active in the cryptocurrency sector. Consumers who have invested in them complain that they are unable to recover the funds invested, or that they simply have heard nothing further from the company with which they invested their money. In the end of 2018, the “blacklist” included 113 websites.

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