UK FCA sues scammers from binary options firm Bespoke Markets Group for £1.2m fraud

The UK FCA has filed a complaint against a group of individuals for an alleged investment fraud with binary options that took place between June 2016 and January 2020. 

The UK’s financial watchdog is prosecuting Cameron Vickers, Raheel Mirza and Opeyemi Solaja (aka Opeyemi Olaja), who allegedly ran a London based company called Bespoke Markets Group which defrauded £1.2 million from UK investors.

The FCA also charged Reuben Akpojaro, who also worked at Bespoke Markets Group, was charged with the same offences relating to the scheme.

Raheel Mirza and a fifth individual, Taheer Sardar, were also charged for perverting the course of justice relating to the FCA’s investigation: between 31 July 2022 and the 1 October 2022, the two men allegedly created a false document to influence the case.

Unlicensed operation, money laundering, and fraud

The money was used to fund their lifestyles, rather than the binary options investments that were advertised, according to the regulator, which charged each of them with offences under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and an offence of conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law.

Under Section 19 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA), a person cannot carry on a regulated activity in the UK unless they are FCA authorised or exempt. Any person who breaches Section 19 of FSMA is committing a criminal offence for which the maximum sentence is two years’ imprisonment.

Money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 is a criminal offence punishable on conviction by a fine and / or up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

Conspiracy to defraud is an offence under common law with a maximum sentence on conviction of 10 years’ imprisonment.

Binary Options is banned for retail use since 2019

Binary options – a high-risk ‘all-or-nothing’ type of investment, where investors attempt to predict whether an event will happen or not. If they win, they’ll see a return, but if they’re wrong, they’ll lose all their investment – were banned in the United Kingdom in 2019 after overwhelming evidence that the product was offered as a form of gambling and retail consumers consistently lost money.

The FCA is executing a 3-year strategy to reduce and prevent conduct that can cause serious harm. The FCA recently announced that it had placed restrictions on twice as many firms in the investment market compared to last year.