In a quest to protect the interests of investors from scammers in the cryptocurrency industry, Belgium Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) blacklisted 28 fraudulent cryptocurrency platforms on September 4. The body went ahead to publish a list of the involved crypto platforms on its website to notify and warn potential investors against getting lured by the same companies. The list is however not comprehensive since according to FSMA, investors are still expressing grievances. The authority body is, therefore, appealing the public to report more cases for investigations.
Increased Crypto Scams
According to the FSMA website, most of the blacklisted companies have been operating through Facebook and other social media outlets, where they lure visitors with attractive rewards. Since many investors like the ‘get rich quick’ schemes, they quickly get trapped only to realize that they have been conned. The cryptocurrency platforms are also said to provide various financial products while using cryptocurrencies as the underlying asset. For instance, some use savings account with promised guaranteed returns, derivative products, and servicing rights.
This is not the first time the Belgium government has warned against fraudulent cryptocurrency exchanges. In March 2018, The Financial Services and Markets Authority warned of 19 cryptocurrency exchanges which were scams. Customers had been complaining that some cryptocurrency exchanging platforms were fraudulent; hence their hard-earned money was getting lost. The received complains revealed that the companies in question would cut off communication from the victims when asked to refund them. Apart from publishing the list of the scammers and later publishing it, FSMA cautioned users to avoid trusting too much and revealing their details.
In June 2018, the Belgium government supported a website initiative which was meant to minimize cryptocurrency related scams. The site, which was launched by Financial Services and Markets Authority together with Belgian Federal Public Service Economy, warns the visitors that if the deal is too good to be true, they should take caution. It also warns visitors that the crypto industry is overcrowded, thus making it hard to differentiate to know the scams. The site further warns potential visitors always to make sure they understand the firm or brokers they are dealing with to avoid becoming victims.
Apart from the warnings, the Belgium site provides user protection tips on the dos and don’ts to apply when using online crypto sites. For instance, the site advises users not to reveal any personal information, and to be wary of the deals that look extremely attractive.
Efforts made by FSMA to identify fraudulent companies have seen 78 cryptocurrency websites blacklisted, including the current 28 platforms. The list is made up of companies that are either reported to be operating illegally in the country or those said to infringe Belgian laws and regulations by selling false products and later scamming the clients.
Belgium is not the first country to ban fraudulent companies from offering blockchain technology services. Recently, Chinese authorities were forced to halt 124 offshore cryptocurrency sites which were transacting illegally. Local news outlets revealed that the authorities warned all malls, hotels, buildings and several commercial properties from hosting blockchain and cryptocurrency related promotions and talks. This was after the Chinese government had received customer complains that the sites would trick them and later disappear with their investments. Most firms moved to Switzerland, Singapore, and other crypto friendly nations.
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