French watchdog blacklists five unregulated investment domains

abdelaziz Fathi

The Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) in France is continuously updating its blacklists to include new websites and entities that offer atypical investment opportunities without proper authorization.

Today, France’s financial markets regulator has shed light on several unregulated forex brokers representing their offering under several brands.

The blacklisted firms have been providing professional ‎investment services to domestic clients without proper authorization, which is a criminal offense. The one-size-fits-all reasoning that the AMF gives is that these companies might be running scam operations, and so they have not received licenses to trade with French clients.

Since the start of 2023, ten new websites have been added to the AMF’s blacklist, with five of these in the “wine” investment category. Since the blacklist’s inception in 2017, which initially focused on illegal diamond investment offers, the AMF has expanded it to include over 400 unauthorized internet addresses.

In 2022, French regulator added 49 Forex investments to its caution list compared to 61 in 2021. In the crypto-asset derivatives category, the number of blacklisted websites has significantly dropped to only two, compared to 24 websites added in the prior year.

These brokers have also been found guilty of making unsolicited calls and sending out similar emails to locals regarding online trading, financial consultation, and credit without gaining the necessary approvals.

The regulator has been quite active in policing crypto activities, and in addition to such warnings, it prohibits the advertising and distribution of cryptocurrency derivatives.

The well-known details about the full advertising ban on certain offerings are all in place, but the update notes that promoting cryptocurrency derivatives demands that brokers that are offering such products must comply with a set of regulations.

Meanwhile, the recent warning shows that crypto business remains a significant source of fraud in Europe, and while many of these firms on the AMF’s blacklist claim to be based in France, most of the addresses provided are false, and the firms are actually based overseas.

The list of providers that were published includes the following domain names:

  • bouchonpourpre.com
  • espace-financiereclc.com
  • financiereclairac.com
  • financierehlc.com
  • malinsplacements.fr/or

The AMF says it continues to receive reports of victims falling prey to scams offering to buy shares in listed companies through fraudulent platforms posing as regulated providers of “savings accounts”. It also advised members of the public to be wary of stock recommendations given on social media and messaging applications.

These are typically from overseas ‘brokers’ who target potential victims offering to sell what often turn out to be worthless or high risk shares. These callers can be very persistent and extremely persuasive, and their activities have resulted in considerable losses for some investors, the authorities said.

Another common scam is “pump and dump” schemes related to some penny stocks where fraudsters try to boost its price by sharing positive, but fake, information. In this case, they claim that a company managed to detect coronavirus cases or to develop a new cure to prevent the infection.

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