CFTC gets extra time to effect service in Yukom binary options fraud case

Maria Nikolova

At the status hearing held earlier this week, only counsel for the CFTC appeared.

The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has secured additional time to effect service on a number of defendants in a binary options fraud case targeting a number of entities associated with Israeli-based Yukom Communications.

The list of defendants in this case ncludes: Yukom Communications Ltd., Linkopia Mauritius Ltd. , Wirestech Limited d/b/a BigOption, WSB Investment Ltd d/b/a BinaryBook (“WSB”), Zolarex Ltd. d/b/a BinaryOnline, Yakov Cohen, Yossi Herzog, Lee Elbaz and Shalom Peretz.

As FinanceFeeds has reported, the Court has set an initial status hearing for October 15, 2019. At the hearing held before the Honorable Andrea R. Wood, only counsel for the CFTC appeared. This is barely surprising as the US regulator has informed the Court that only one of the Yukom defendants have been served – that is, Lee Elbaz, and none of the Yukom defendants has filed a responsive pleading.

On August 23, 2019, the CFTC served Elbaz, the ex-CEO of Yukom Communications, with Summons and the Complaint. Elbaz has failed to answer or otherwise respond to the Complaint, and the Commission anticipates requesting that the Court enter a default judgment against her.

On August 7, 2019, shortly before the filing of the Complaint, Elbaz was convicted by a federal jury of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She is currently awaiting sentencing in the criminal case.

All of the remaining Yukom defendants are located outside of the United States. The CFTC says that, on August 14, 2019, it initiated service of process as to those defendants pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(f)(1) and the Hague Convention, but has yet to successfully serve on any of the off-shore defendants.

For example, at the time the Commission filed the Complaint, three of the defendants – Cohen, Herzog, and Peretz, were all believed to be located in Israel. Their respective Summons and Complaint were sent via Registered Mail on August 14, 2019 pursuant to Article 10 of the Hague Convention, As of October 1, 2019, all remain “in transit to destination” according to U.S. Postal Service records. Recently, the Commission has received information indicating that Cohen may be residing at an undisclosed location in the Congo.

Regarding service on Yukom Communications, on August 14, 2019, the CFTC initiated service on Yukom’s offices in Ceasarea, Israel via Registered Mail pursuant to Article 10 of the Hague Convention. As of October 1, 2019, U.S Postal Service records indicate that the return is “on its way to a USPS facility.”

Pursuant to the discussion held in open court on October 15, 2019, the CFTC’s deadline to effect service of summons and complaint on the defendants is extended to the next status hearing (November 26, 2019).

The CFTC’s complaint alleges that, from March 2014 through the present, the defendants fraudulently solicited and accepted more than $103 million in connection with their binary options trading scheme. As alleged in the complaint, the defendants have solicited individuals located throughout the U.S. and elsewhere to trade binary options through internet trading websites. The complaint further charges that the defendants have falsely stated that the binary options offered by the five defendant entities are actual transactions subject to objective market conditions when, in fact, they are mere book entries whose outcomes can and have been manipulated to force customer losses.

The US regulator seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, civil monetary penalties, restitution for the benefit of customers, permanent registration and trading bans, and a permanent injunction from future violations of the Commodity Exchange Act.

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