We lobby Southampton FC on why they are taking sponsorship from fraudulent binary options firms
By signing deals with fraudulent binary options firms, high profile football clubs with large and loyal fan bases are setting themselves up to be associated with fraud, and also to allow the very fans that adore and support them all of their lives to be duped out of money by the very firm that sponsors the team. We look into this, and why it should never prevail
Good quality, well known British Premier League football teams with a massive following of loyal fans.
A pillar of the establishment, Southampton Football Club’s prominence in England dates back to 1885, and was a founding member of the Premier League in 1992.
Like many very popular sports in Britain, football has a massive fan base, made up of good honest people who want to support their teams at the weekend, many of whom consider the supporting of their team to be an unfaltering way of life.
Why, then, if the loyal fans are critical to Premier League football’s appeal, do top of the line clubs such as Southampton Football Club take sponsorship money from fraudulent binary options firms?
Yesterday, Southampton Football Club signed a deal with Banc de Binary, one of the largest OTC binary options companies in the world, with the sponsorship worth between $300,000 and $400,000 for the season, paid for by a company which steals money from unsuspecting people around the world who think (quite mistakenly) that they are investing in a financial markets product, but infact are betting against a weighted house in which there are absolutely no chances of a win, and in which the revenues are the customer’s deposit.
Sponsorships such as this have two toxic consequences. The first being that a major football team is earning revenue from the proceeds of fraud, therefore associating itself with the lowbrow, bottom rung nature of binary options, and the second being that loyal fans who are unsuspecting and perhaps have never heard of binary options are exactly the market that binary options brands seek to target, therefore by allowing binary options firms to sponsor them, football teams are creating an environment in which their own loyal fans who adore and trust their beloved teams could be ripped off.
The second possibility is probably the most dangerous, as it would cause individuals who had no previous exposure to electronic trading to associate bona fide firms of London, New York and Chicago with back street binary options businesses with no presence in any financial center, thus making life harder for the real firms in the industry whose executives dedicate their professional careers to providing the highest quality trading environment and live market access to customers.
Binary options trading does not resemble in any way, shape or form the real electronic trading industry.
As FinanceFeeds has pointed out previously, worldwide governments, regulators and mainstream financial markets experts consider binary options to be a fraudulent activity and it has been banned in many countries. Israel, which is home to many of the platform providers which (although they never admit it) are also market makers, has been at the forefront of attempts to put an end to this entire business, with senior regulatory official Shmuel Hauser stating that he seeks to quash the entire industry that is bringing disrepute on the nation.
France has outlawed the advertising of binary options, and Belgium has banned it completely. It is illegal in the United States too, and Britain, where gambling is legal, has decided not to regulate binary options under FCA licensing due to the number of scams that have come to light.
As FinanceFeeds reported this week following our own investigation into how the customer onboarding process works, we were told by one CEO of a binary brand “We target people who are addicted to gambling. We look to get leads from all sources and funnels, and if people working here can bring leads then this is better.” This means that not only do they recycle leads from poker sites and then pretend to offer a gambler a financial product in order to ‘steal’ money on false pretenses, but also they hire sales staff who have stolen leads from their previous employer.
The career paths of the owners of binary options firms are nothing like that of real financial markets executives.
Far from the private school education, internships, and years of experience with large, global blue chip companies that the true executives of the electronic trading industry have passed, many of Israel’s binary options companies do not have shareholders or public reporting obligations, and are indeed owned by one or two people, who often do not disclose their identity and have come from lead buying, affiliate marketing, adult entertainment, gambling and in some cases, other fraudulent activities.
The understanding of operations and business model employed by many brokers of this type is also representative of a complete dichotomy from those abroad, largely because the retail FX and binary options industry in Israel did not rise up from the interbank or technology sectors that it did overseas, and was not established by financial markets professionals with strings of qualifications and shareholders to report to.
Instead, it was a spin-off from the huge gaming, affiliate marketing and sports betting businesses that are set up in Israel that market their services to retail gaming customers overseas (gambling is illegal in Israel).
The trouble is that binary options is worse than gambling because it purports to offer financial markets trading facilities, which it absolutely does not at all. It is a closed system with no connection to the real markets, and is completely in favor of the house. Many brands own online casinos, and when the clients are out of money, they call them from their binary options division and persuade them not to gamble but instead to ‘invest’, when actually there is no investment or trading, it is just another ruse to steal money under false pretenses.
The pressure is mounting worldwide to end the binary options fraud, however the perpetrators are not giving up. This week, several of the major firms held a secret meeting in Cyprus to found an unrecognized, underground and back street trade body called European Brokers Association (EUBOA) in a last gasp attempt to save their nefarious business from the imminent claws of the crusher. FinanceFeeds believes that this will not be paid any attention to, and that sooner or later, the end will come.
Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world have been victims of this multi-billion dollar scam since it rose to prominence in 2011.
Bearing all of this in mind, we asked Southampton Football Club to explain why it entered into a sponsorship deal with Banc de Binary, a company which commits fraud and steals money from people all over the world, and was the subject of an $11 million fine by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for violating securities laws by soliciting for business in America, as well as having been handed a restitution order, which remains outstanding.
FinanceFeeds explained that a statement on this from Southampton FC would be welcome, and, whether unsuspectingly nor not, why major sports teams are still associating themselves with fraudsters and taking the money for sponsorship which has been stolen from vulnerable people who have no recourse.
Despite several attempts via email and telephone, no answer was forthcoming. FinanceFeeds accepts that Southampton Football Club’s sponsorship department may not be fully aware of the magnitude of this and the implications of getting involved with binary options firms, however any mild due diligence would have done the job. We also approached an industry lawyer close to the matter, who did reply but explained that it is very unlikely that any binary brand or anyone connected with that particular industry would comment as it is a ‘sensitive matter’ and that he would not like to see anybody involved in such business ‘get hurt’.
Football clubs benefiting from sponsorship, unwittingly encouraging binary firms to rip their fans off
On September 7 last year, Banc de Binary signed a £1.5 million year-long sponsorship deal with Liverpool FC, an even more prominent football team. Whether this will be renewed or not is unknown as yet, as it is due for renewal right now, however if it goes ahead, we will lobby Liverpool FC also for the very same reasons. One of the worst aspects of that particular deal was that Banc de Binary would benefit from some of Liverpool FC’s digital marketing – meaning that (knowingly or not), Liverpool FC was actively encouraging its fans to fall foul of the fraudsters.
Italian football club Juventus, one of the biggest teams in the world, accepted a sponsorship deal from 24Option, a large binary options brand which uses the TechFinancials platform. Three years ago, the Israeli police raided the company’s offices and arrested a shareholder. Just days later, the firm packed its bags and moved to Ireland.
On June 29 this year, 24Option extended its sponsorship of Juventus for another year. This shows the absolute rise to wealth of these fraudulent companies. Just five years ago, the founder of 24Option was a young marketing administrator at one of the smaller ‘fringe’ FX firms that operated a warehouse model, whereas now he operates a 150-strong binary options brand and sponsors football teams from the proceeds of stealing money from people all over the world by using a weighted platform that pretends to offer financial markets trading, marketed by call centers filled with salesmen with fake names whose sole raison d’etre is to extract as much as possible, demonstrating that in this case, deception is lucrative. We will also be lobbying Juventus on the same basis and for the same reasons.
London’s West End is a major center for PR agencies and media entities that specialize in putting together branding and sponsorship deals.
Great Portland Street has for many years been home to a plethora of specialist agencies, some very large, that work with blue chip firms and broker branding an sponsorship deals with large sports teams as well as other high profile visuals such as television and entertainment.
To find out whether such firms consider sport sponsorship by binary options brands ethical, FinanceFeeds approached Synergy, which nestles deep in the heart of London’s trendy media heartlands in Great Portland Street. When asked whether they would take a binary options brand and broker a deal with a football club, and whether they consider this unethical, the representative explained “No, we work with any firm that looks to improve their branding.”
“We work exclusively brand side” she continued to explain. “One of our services is consultancy, in which we have a look at the portfolio of the brand, and then we look at the sponsors that may suit. We work for big blue chip clients often on this basis.”
“We don’t think it is unethical to broker deals between football teams and binary brands” she said. “If it is right for the brand or rights holder, then we go ahead. We look at he brand, value, ROI, it’s not an easy yes or no.”
We believe that the agencies see the dollar signs and do the deal, not realizing the true business models that these firms employ, therefore some degree of providing information to marketing and PR agencies is also needed in order to stem this level of high profile sponsorship.
An additional caveat to bear in mind is that football shirts, and what is written on them, are massively influential to children and teenagers in parts of the world in which football is a very popular and almost religiously followed sport. Football clubs often sell merchandise versions of the shirts of the stars that children and teenagers who love football admire, therefore by having binary options names on football shirts, minors by default could be inadvertently standing themselves up as ‘ambassadors’ to this fraud, or even worse getting taken in by it themselves.
The internet is awash with a litany of appalling experiences from customers and former staff of such firms, one which is publicly available on the internet states
Banc de Binary is an unethical business that is using Southampton’s data base to link up with unsuspecting people who trust the reputation of the club to make financial investments with Banc de Binary. Their brokers are dishonest and the company does not follow accountable business standard in a transparent way. Brokers say whatever they want to get you to buy in, promising bonuses and easy withdraw of your investment when in fact this is not the case. Its a shame that Saints would do business with Banc de Binary. I hope that the clubs supporters are not deceived.
This is exactly the type of danger by association that it is our responsibility to root out. We would recommend that should Southampton Football Club, or any other mainstream clubs profit from this activity in any way, a trust account should be opened on a benevolent basis, in order that those affected could be paid their money back.
FinanceFeeds remains committed to the support of the mainstream and high quality bona fide retail and institutional firms in bona fide jursidictions which operate a genuine electronic trading system, as well as the support of their technology partners. Our continued research alongside these firms aims to engender and facilitate the very top level of quality possible in today’s highly sophisticated electronic trading environment, and in order to do so, stands vehemently against the lowbrow and back street nature of bucket shops and binary options brands.