Agents from America’s Federal Bureau for Investigation (FBI) have been forced to fly to Israel to launch their own investigations against the Jewish online “binary options” fraud after Israeli police have failed to investigate or arrest a single fraudster, the Times of Israel has admitted.
In an article titled “Amid police inaction on binary options fraud, FBI pursues suspects in Israel,” the Times of Israel said that FBI agents had come to Israel to interrogate Israeli binary options platform provider SpotOption, and options company owner Yossi Herzog.
“While Israeli authorities have failed to convict or even indict anybody for a decade of global binary options fraud, the FBI has taken on the work, and agents flew here to question several alleged binary options fraudsters in recent days,” the Times of Israel reported.
The “binary options” swindle—whereby online users are tricked into making “investments” through the use of aggressive telesales teams into a fraudulent currency projection system—which is rigged to take their money—was legal in Israel for decades—but only if used on victims outside of the Jewish state.
In other words, Israeli law made it illegal to sell “binary options” to Jews in Israel, but legal to sell to non-Jews outside of Israel.
The swindle—which took billions worldwide and left thousands of gentiles facing disaster, was only stopped after it was realized inside Israel that the practice was “causing anti-Semitism,” as one of the major proponents of its outlawing said at the time.
When the “binary options” fraud was finally outlawed in Israel, during 2017, it was widely expected that the Israeli police would then crack down on the Jews engaged in the online swindle. This has however not happened, and the fraud apparently still goes on.
Hence, as the Times of Israel has now reported, FBI agents visited the Ramat Gan offices of the major binary options platform provider SpotOption on January 8. The company’s owner, Pini Peter, told The Marker business daily that the FBI had taken files from SpotOption’s computers.
The FBI also questioned Yossi Herzog, the owner of Yukom Communications Ltd., an Israeli company that has run the web sites Bigoption.com and Binarybook.com.
The CEO of Herzog’s company, Lee Elbaz, was arrested by the FBI in September when she landed at JFK airport, and remains under house arrest in the US until her trial. She is suspected of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, violations that can carry up to 20 years in prison each.
In the FBI affidavit explaining her arrest, Yukom Ltd. was accused of illegally defrauding thousands of investors, including Americans, out of tens of millions of dollars.
Spotoption, in the same affidavit, was accused of conspiring with Elbaz to manipulate the outcome of trades.
The FBI told The Times of Israel last February that it had begun investigating binary options in earnest.
“Our agents are going to look under every rock and stone,” FBI Supervisory Special Agent Milan Kosanovich said in a telephone interview, speaking a month after law enforcement officials from North America and Europe had gathered for an emergency summit on binary options fraud in The Hague.
The FBI’s visit to Israel comes under the ongoing exchange of information and judicial cooperation that Israel maintains with many governments abroad, including the United States.
The Times of Israel went on to say that “Some observers regard the recent FBI actions in Israel as reflecting poorly on the Israeli police and justice system.
Nimrod Assif, an Israeli lawyer who represents victims of binary options and forex fraud, said that he views the FBI’s intervention here as “a direct result of Israel’s failure to enforce the law.”
Assif told The Times of Israel that he has been trying for years to alert the Israeli police to binary options and forex fraud, to no avail.
“I’ve complained to the police on behalf of at least ten victims from all over the world. I provided the police with the names of the Israeli companies that are behind the binary options websites, the addresses in Israel of their offices, and the names of the Israelis behind these companies,” he said. “At least once, I gave the police the phone number of a former employee who was willing to give evidence, and another time I gave the police concrete information on one of the main issues that the FBI is now investigating. As far as I know, the police have done nothing with all these complaints and information.”
Many Israeli binary options companies have moved their call centers abroad, while some continue to operate call centers and online trading platforms from within Israel, offering forex, cryptocurrencies or other financial products in lieu of binary options.
Meanwhile, the British Financial Conduct Authority on January 12 published a list of 94 companies offering binary options to UK investors without authorization. Almost all the companies on the list operated from Israel.
Among the web sites on the UK list are IvoryOption.com and 72option.com.
Until recently, those two sites were operated from offices of Liantech Ltd. and Holy Top Media Ltd. in Ramat Gan. Both of the latter companies are owned by Anton Senderov and Lior Babazara. Holy Top Media continues to advertise for workers on Israeli job boards. It is seeking salespeople to relocate abroad to Ukraine and is also seeking cryptocurrency salespeople for its Israeli office.
The ultimate beneficial owner of Option500.com, another company on the list, was, until recently, Ofir Eyal Bar, according to documents seen by The Times of Israel.
TitanTrade.com, another website on the list, is the subject of a lawsuit filed in May 2017 by a Polish woman who lost $95,000 to the company. According to the lawsuit, filed by attorneys Yossi Haezrachy and Nir Friedman, TitanTrade was operated by GTech Media Development Ltd (formerly MIG G.A. Financial Marketing Ltd). GTech’s director and owner is a man by the name of Guy Galboiz. In his writ of defense, Galboiz’s lawyers denied that GTech is connected to TitanTrade.
Ubinary.com, another website on the FCA list, was until recently run from a call center at Hamasger 9 in Tel Aviv, by a company called Gambol Online Ltd., which is closely associated with Toyga Media Ltd and the UFX.com forex trading website.
In April 2017, Bank Hapoalim informed Gambol that it had decided to close its account because the company’s binary options activity had subjected the bank to increased anti-money laundering scrutiny from banks abroad. Gambol Online sued the bank to keep the account open.
Gambol stated in the lawsuit complaint that it had offered call center services, customer service, development, technical support and marketing services to the binary options websites ubinary.com and ucapital.com. It claimed to have had 160 employees at its height.
The company told Bank Hapoalim that Gambol Online’s beneficial owners are Sa’ar Pilosof (18.04 percent), Haim Toledano (18.04%) and a company called Positive Approach LLP, which owned 28.36% of the binary options firm.
According to the Isle of Man corporate registry, the address for Positive Approach LLP is Hamarganit street 3 in Tel Mond, Israel. According to Israel’s corporate registry, the address also belongs to Gil Hod, an Israeli businessman best known for his close association with Israeli tycoon Koby Maimon.