BeeOptions operators charged in $165 million Binary Options fraud
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has announced the filing of a civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas charging six individuals and four companies with operating a fraudulent binary options trading scheme that received over $165 million in connection with illegal, off-exchange binary option transactions on currency pairs, oil, and other commodities.
The CFTC’s action comes after coordinating efforts among the financial regulators in no less than nine other countries.
The CFTC complaint charges that from at least May 1, 2013 through April 29, 2018, three Canadian brothers – defendants David Cartu, Jonathan Cartu, and Joshua Cartu – marketed, offered, and sold illegal, off-exchange binary options to retail customers on websites under the BeeOptions, Glenridge Capital, and Rumelia Capital binary option brands.
As alleged in the complaint, the Cartu brothers, along with a pair of Canadian brothers living in Israel – defendants Leeav Peretz and Nati Peretz – operated call centers primarily located in Israel that targeted and victimized U.S. residents by promising “quick” returns of “between 60-85%” by trading binary options.
The complaint further alleges that, at the direction of the Cartu and Peretz brothers, the individual brokers soliciting U.S. customers falsely represented their financial expertise, compensation structure, physical location, and identity. These brokers also falsely claimed that the offered binary option transactions were profitable, when the majority of customers lost money. Also charged in the alleged fraud is Ryan Masten of Austin, Texas, and his company BareIt Media LLC d/b/a SignalPush, a Texas entity, as well as All Out Marketing Limited, Blue Moon Investments, Ltd., and Orlando Union Inc., each an offshore entity owned and controlled by one of the Cartu brothers.
“The scope and breadth of the fraudulent activity alleged in this case is only matched by that of the international and domestic cooperation organized to prosecute it,” said Division of Enforcement Director James McDonald. “The CFTC is committed to leveraging not only our resources, but also our extensive relationships with domestic and foreign partners, to root out misconduct in our derivatives markets.”
The complaint charges that, unbeknownst to customers, beginning on or before September 26, 2015, the binary option transactions offered by BeeOptions, Glenridge Capital, and Rumelia Capital were executed on an internet-based trading platform developed and operated by the Cartu brothers and Masten. As alleged in the complaint, customers of the Cartu brands, and later customers of other binary options brands operated by third-parties, accessed the Cartu platform through each individual binary brand’s website. The complaint charges that the Cartu brothers and Masten, acting through the defendant entities, controlled these transactions and manipulated the results of some trades to force customer losses and generate profits for themselves.
As alleged in the complaint, the Cartu brothers also operated Greymountain Management Limited, a now-defunct “payment processor” that maintained its principal place of business in Ireland. The Cartu brothers used Greymountain to facilitate the transfer of funds from customers in the U.S. and elsewhere for illegal, off-exchange binary option transactions. Through Greymountain and other related entities, the Cartu brothers processed over $165 million in credit card payments for binary option transactions. The complaint further alleges that Masten and SignalPush provided trade signals and auto-trader services to customers, and failed to register with the CFTC as required.
In its continuing litigation against the defendants, the CFTC 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 as charged.
The CFTC cautions victims that restitution orders may not result in the recovery of money lost, because the wrongdoers may not have sufficient funds or assets. The CFTC said it will continue to fight vigorously for the protection of customers to ensure wrongdoers are held accountable.
The CFTC also noted that it thanks the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) for their assistance in this matter. Earlier this year, the OSC commenced a proceeding against the Cartu brothers for violations of securities law involving over 700 Ontarian investors and over $1.4 million Canadian dollars.
The CFTC also thanks and acknowledges the assistance of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, International Financial Services Commission of Belize, Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Financial Supervisory Authority of Germany, Central Bank of Ireland, Israel Securities Authority, Malta Financial Services Authority, Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA, and the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).