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‘Killers having lunch’: The real life Wolves of Wall Street

Part 1

London-based nurse Hiba Ali hoped to make some money when she opened a £250 account with a company called BinaryBook, which promised big returns on investments known as binary options. Just months later she had lost more than £13,000.

The day after she opened her account most of the £250 was gone. But a phone salesman assured her she could get it all back and more if she invested in BinaryBook’s “risk-free platform which will give 75% profit,” she said.

She agreed to put £5,000 in, and over the course of high-pressure phone calls and emails went on to invest £14,000 in total. The salesman told her that a set of trades were “100% insured by BinaryBook bonus money management system,” and that her money would be returned to her account within an hour if the trades were lost.

But a few months later she says she was told all her trades had “expired”. While her account showed a balance of £14,689, only £689 was hers to withdraw.

The other £14,000 was “bonus” money and could not be accessed until she had traded at 30 times that amount.

I feel stupid being fooled to this extent,” she told the Bureau. “But they are very professional”. Ali was later left unable to work after being hit by a car in February, and pleaded with BinaryBook that she was desperate for money – but to no avail.

She complained to her bank that she believed she had been defrauded and £10,000 was refunded. But BinaryBook succcessfully disputed a further £4,000 refund, arguing that she had not met the conditions required to withdraw the “bonus” money. “The stress and pain this [has] caused me is indescribable,” she said.

Ali is just one of thousands of people who believe they have been ripped off by companies and websites offering binary options trading – a scheme sold as an investment opportunity that in reality is a gamble or straight-up scam.

Binary options investments involve betting on whether the price of certain assets, such as shares, currencies or commodities, will go up or down within a specific time period.

Scores of websites like BinaryBook offer these deals to British customers, who often forge a relationship with a personal broker – or ‘expert trader’ – who will place the bets for them.

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