The Financial and Consumer Services Commission (FCNB) is warning about high-risk crypto asset investing after a New Brunswicker lost money to a company called 4XFX.net. The company claims to operate an online bitcoin trading investment platform out of Germany.
The victim was also approached by a company called Coinbrokerz operating a similar scam.
These companies claim to offer investment opportunities in bitcoin, as well as other crypto assets and commodities. Their websites are currently shut down. The Manitoba Securities Commission has also issued a warning about 4XFX due to a loss by an individual from Winnipeg.
Neither of these companies have ever been registered to trade securities or derivatives in the province. New Brunswickers are warned not to engage with these companies. International regulators have also issued warnings.
As part of FCNB’s mandate to help protect consumers and enhance public confidence in the financial marketplace, staff are renewing a warning about the risks associated with products based on crypto assets, including the following:
- Potential for Fraud: Due to their very nature, crypto assets are fertile ground for fraud.
- It’s Volatile: Prices of crypto assets rise and fall dramatically, often driven only by media hype. There are few constraints on price manipulation.
- It’s Vulnerable: Technology and platforms used for crypto assets, such as online wallet companies and exchanges, are susceptible to cybersecurity threats and hacking, putting your deposits at risk.
- High failure rate: Many crypto assets are based on an idea, not a proven business model.
- Obscurity: It is hard to make informed decisions about value without financial statements or other traditional assessment criteria to rely upon.
Recent increases in the price of Bitcoin have increased public awareness and interest in crypto assets and given rise to related frauds.
If you are solicited to buy or trade crypto assets, here are some steps you should take:
- Check registration: anyone who sells investments in the province must be registered with the commission. Report the details of potential frauds to the commission.
- Do a quick Internet search on the company to see if there has been any disciplinary action against it.
- Ensure any payment method you might use is secure and does not put your personal financial information at risk. Never send money out of Canada.
- Do not provide personal information.
- If you do not understand the technology, stay away.
This alert follows a recent review by the North American Securities Administrators Association related to fraudulent crypto asset offerings. The association conducted its Operation Cryptosweep, an international crackdown on potentially fraudulent Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency-related products, involving more than 40 provincial and state securities regulators in Canada and the United States. This is the second cryptosweep conducted since 2018. FCNB is a member of the association.
FCNB encourages investors to think critically before parting with their money. In particular, for high-risk and complicated investment decisions, individuals should not invest unless they are prepared to lose all or part of their money. Legitimate products can be high-risk and are not suitable for everyone. Check registration before investing as a quick first step in protecting your funds. For more information on investing, crypto assets and the red flags of fraud visit fcnb.ca.
FCNB has the mandate to protect consumers and enhance public confidence in the financial and consumer marketplace through the provision of regulatory and educational services. It is responsible for the administration and enforcement of provincial legislation regulating mortgage brokers, payday lenders, real estate, securities, insurance, pensions, credit unions, trust and loan companies, co-operatives, and a wide range of other consumer legislation. It is an independent Crown corporation funded by the regulatory fees and assessments paid by the regulated sectors. Online educational tools and resources are available at www.fcnb.ca.