SEC Files Charges Against Binary Options Brokers LBinary and Ivory Options
Two citizens of Israel, Anton Senderov and Lior Babazara (also known as Lior Bar), were charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on October 9, 2019, with causing over 2,800 United States investors to lose more than $5 million on binary options.1 These investors had done business with the defendant’s companies LBinary and Ivory Options.
Trading in binary options is risky and is suspect to fraud due to a lack of regulation making it a target for investment scams.
A binary option is based on a “yes” or “no” decision. 2 The option got its name because it is based on only those two options, similar to the binary system which uses only “0” and “1”. Basically how a binary option works is that an investor decides if an underlying asset, such as a stock, will be trading higher (a “yes” decision) or lower (a “no” decision) than a fixed dollar amount on a fixed date and time. If the stock does trade higher, the investor receives a payout per the terms agreed upon. If the stock trades lower, the investor loses their initial investment.
According to Investopedia.com, most binary options trading occurs outside the United States and may not be regulated, so investors should be wary of the potential for fraud.3 In fact, the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy and Retail Strategy Task Force recently released two alerts based on the LBinary and Ivory Options case. These alerts warn investors not to fall for investment scams, inform investors of common investment scam tactics, and urge investors to be wary of paying for investments by credit card or by wiring money abroad.4
The SEC complaint alleges that most investors lost money, with some losing their entire savings. Investor’s withdrawal requests were typically ignored, not processed or denied due to withdrawal restrictions in the purported terms and conditions.5 In some cases, after investors stopped making deposits and submitted withdrawal requests retention department employees made unauthorized binary options trades with their account dollars.
In one case an employee lost $400,000+ and in another nearly $107,000 of investor’s money.6 It was also common that after withdrawal requests were made the employees serving as account representatives would cease communicating with the investor, who was told the account representative was ill, on vacation or busy.
The SEC complaint alleges that investors were also misled about the expertise and the compensation structure of the account representatives, who actually worked in a call center in Israel called LianTech, which was owner and operated by Senderov and Babazara. The LBinary and Ivory Options websites and the LianTech account representatives claimed that investors could make large profits trading binary options while working with LianTech’s supposedly experienced investment professionals.
According to the SEC, LianTech call center employees were trained to lie about their backgrounds and investment experience.7 The call center employees also lied about their compensation structure, telling investors that they only made money if the investor made money. The opposite was true. The employees only earned money from investor losses and “had no incentive to advise investors on how to trade binary options profitably.”8
The SEC is seeking disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, prejudgment interest, financial penalties and permanent injunctions against the defendants and the companies they controlled (LianTech, LBinary and Ivory Options).
If you believe you have been a victim of an investment scam such as the LBinary and Ivory Options scheme it is important that you contact an experienced investment fraud attorney. With over 20 years’ experience in investment and securities fraud cases, the Law Offices of Peter C. Rageas can help. Deceptive investments can affect anybody and as an investor you have rights. Contact our Securities Law Firm today for a case evaluation.
1,4,8 SEC Charges Two Individuals with Defrauding Main Street Investors Through the Sale of Binary Options
2,3 What is a Binary Option? Tim Smith, www.investopedia.com, 3/22/2019
5,6,7 Complaint, Case 4:19-cv-05242, Securities and Exchange Commission vs. Anton Senderov and Lior Babazara, Filed 10/09/2019