There has been a lot of online forex trading scams targeting South Africans in recent years. These scams have spiked up during the lockdowns caused by CoVid-19.
A report on scams in 2020 had these key findings:
- Over 50 per cent of Forex scams find their victims on social media
- 34.2 per cent on Facebook and 19.6 per cent on Instagram
- Almost 20 per cent of victims paid their scammers in Bitcoin
- Average Loss: R11 986
- Largest Loss: R645 000
- 47 per cent of victims were scammed by individuals
- 43 per cent of all broker complaints were about JP Markets
It is not surprising that these scams have led some people to believe that forex trading is a scam.
Forex trading on its own is a legit online business that can earn you money if done well.
Here we will show you some of the common online forex trading scams targeting South Africans so that you can be able to identify them. These scams can also be used in binary, bitcoin and synthetic indices trading.
Untrustworthy Brokers Scamming South Africans
There are over 1000 forex brokers in the world. However, not all of them are legit. Some are untrustworthy and they will scam by either ignoring or delaying withdrawal requests or by deposits not reflecting in your trading accounts.
Generally, the scammy brokers follow the same patterns of high minimum deposits and low withdrawal limits.
Choosing a forex broker as a beginner can be a very tricky exercise. You will be naive and you will not know what to look for.
As a guide, you should be aware of this when you are looking for a forex broker
- the broker should be regulated by a financial regulatory authority like Financial Service Conduct Authority (FSCA). Never deal with an unregulated broker
- It is also important to check that the broker has a physical address listed. Although brokers run their businesses online, including a physical location is an indication of their commitment to their business, their teams, and ultimately to their clients.
- the broker should have good reviews online
- ideally you would want a broker with a low minimum deposit so that you can try them out without risking your money.
Taking these precautions will reduce your chances of losing money via a scammy broker.
Account Management Online Forex Trading Scam
This is where someone approaches you and offers to trade on your account and you share profits. Such scammers will contact you via Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram and Instagram.
The scammer will usually have impressive pictures on Facebook and Instagram showing off a rich lifestyle. They can put pictures of fancy cars, watches, alcohol etc. In another popular version of the scandal, a Facebook profile with a beautiful lady will contact you and offer to trade on your behalf and to share profits.
The scammers will usually show you screenshots with impressive profits like the one below.
The goal is to make you confident in their trading skills so that you can fund your account and then give the login details so that they can trade on your behalf.
The partnership is supposed to work like this, you invest your capital, they invest their skill and then you share profits. Most newbies like this kind of arrangement because it takes the pressure of learning and analysing the market off of them.
The danger with this kind of arrangement is that these account managers may not be as good as they claim and they may just want to experiment with your money without any financial risk on their part.
Most of the screenshots they show you will be photoshopped or they will be from demo accounts.
If they get lucky and their trades are successful then you share the profits and they win. If they lose all the money in the account then it's your loss and they simply disappear.
In some instances, these scammers will get the accounts of two people and take the same trade but in different directions on the two different accounts. In other words, they will buy a pair on one account and then sell the same pair on the other account. One of the accounts will lose while the other will make good profits.
The scammer will then block the person with the account that lost and share profits with the trader whose account made massive profits. So the scammer will lose nothing but he will then make money from the profit-sharing with the winning account.
Indians are the most notorious for doing this kind of scam.
We would advise you to be very cautious with such arrangements. If you are ever going to try an account management arrangement make sure that you use money that you are ready to lose. It will be more like a gamble at best. Investing a small amount of money may also help cut your potential losses.
This is one of the most popular online forex trading scams in South Africa.
Instead of account management, a safer option would be copy-trading. This is where you see and verify the performances of pro traders and you choose the one you want to follow. You then get to share profits using a pre-determined ratio.
You do not give your logins to anyone. Instead, you simply sign up for the copy trading service and your broker will copy those trades automatically. You can stop copying any master trader at any time.
You can check out these brokers that offer copy trading services:
You can learn more about copy trading and the brokers that offer it to South Africans here.
Forex/ Bitcoin Pool Investment Scams In South Africa
In this type of scam the ‘fund managers’ will ask you to invest with them and get a fixed rate of return after a certain period. They will promise you rather incredible returns eg 350% in 5 days or something like that.
They will claim that they are expert traders and they will spin your money through binary options, forex and bitcoin trading.
Other forms of this scam involve bitcoin mining. The scammer will ask you to invest and get a fixed daily or weekly return from bitcoin mining.
They may give you your returns when you initially invest small amounts with them as a way of making you gain confidence with them. The scammers will then disappear without a trace after you invest larger amounts with them.
Scammers like this take advantage of the fact that most people do not know how online forex and bitcoin trading work. Such people are easy to deceive and scam.
A lot of people have fallen prey to this kind of online forex trading scam targeting South Africans and you should be on the lookout. Never even attempt this kind of arrangement. Once someone approaches you proposing something like this you should block them right away.
A lot of money has been lost in this type of scam. The biggest bitcoin scam of 2020 involved Mirror Trading International. Investors, many of whom are from South Africa, lost close to US$600 million.
2021 also saw an even bigger amount lost. Africrypt investors lost about US$ 1.2 billion in the biggest bitcoin heist in history. The two brothers running the scheme simply vanished after telling investors that they had been hacked.
Forex Trading Lessons Scams In South Africa
In this instance, unsuspecting but eager forex newbies are asked to pay for forex lessons so that they can get better at trading. In most cases, however, the education that is being sold is found freely online and the scammers are just smart enough to package it as theirs.
For example, there is this free Price Action Trading Course that may so-called forex mentors want to teach others and charge a fee.
At the end of the forex trading course, you will not be any better than you would be if you had searched for the information for yourself online for free.
Be very careful and sceptical before enrolling with any forex mentor online as a lot of people have made more money from teaching forex trading than from the forex markets themselves.
One way you can learn for free is through demo forex contests. You can learn more about these contests here.
Forex Signals Scams In South Africa
This is another attractive arrangement for newbies in forex trading as it also takes the hard work from them and they can get to profit by simply following the signals.
A challenge with this arrangement is that the signals may be ‘hit-or-miss’ and in the end, you may find out that your net position is negative. By that time you would have already paid for the signals and it will be a double loss on your side.
A good signal service should have a trial period of ideally two weeks where you get to see if the signals are legit and profitable before paying for them. They should also give you their account's investor password so that you can check their historical performance yourself.
If your signal provider simply asks you to subscribe without a trial period you must be on the alert. We also recommend copy trading as a better alternative to subscribing to a signal service.
Indicators, Expert Advisors (EA’s) & Robots Forex Scams
Indicators, EA’s & Robots are supposed to make trading easy for you by either telling you when to take trades or taking the trades for you.
Here scammers will sell you indicators or robots that either do not work or are found freely on the internet.
The seller will want to take advantage of naive traders and rip them off.
Skrill Exchange Scams
This type of scam happens when you want to fund your forex trading account using local payment methods. You then look for someone who has funds in their e-wallet (eg PerfectMoney, WebMoney, AirTm or even bitcoin) who wants local money.
You then send the local money but they don’t hold their end of the deal and they block you.
Conclusion on Online Forex Trading Scams Targeting South Africans
There are a lot of scammers online who are ready to pounce on any naive newbies in forex. South Africa is especially targeted by scammers from countries like India, Nigeria and even locals themselves.
Be very careful before parting with your money. If anything sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
Astronomical rates of returns are not possible on a regular basis in the forex markets. You should be wary and skeptical of anyone who promises them.
Think twice and do some due diligence before you give your money to anyone in the name of forex. Do not trust anyone you meet in forex trading groups no matter how helpful and polite they may be.
Performing a simple Google search can show you if you are about to buy something that is free online. Declining friend requests on Facebook from people always talking about bitcoin and forex is a good idea.
If you follow these tips you should be able to evade these online forex trading scams in South Africa.
Have you or anyone you know been scammed before? Are there other online forex trading scams targeting South Africa that we have left out? Share your thoughts in the comments below.