Sunday, August 17, 2008
FOREX “BOILER ROOM” OPERATORS- HIDDEN BEHIND THE MAZE OF MODERN DAY TECHNOLOGY
In the old days, “boiler rooms” referred to the back room operations of scrupulous brokers. So called “boiler rooms” because they are usually found in the cramp, secluded, steaming hot back rooms of small offices to
keep their illegitimate operations away from the prying eyes of authorities. In Hongkong, they were called sweat shops. Through the years the term boiler room became synonymous with scams and swindling operations. However, they now operate in style from well furnished offices situated in prime business districts. The boiler rooms of the old were usually situated in some obscure addresses.
Today, as if flaunting their ill gotten capital from extended years of scamming operations, they set up fully equipped plush offices, and this was for good measure - to hoodwink clients into believing their businesses are legit. Where did these people come from? And how are they able to operate almost anywhere with impunity?
Hong Kong and Macau were the centers of their scam operations before. Starting out with commodity futures trading they soon shifted to the much bigger foreign exchange market after the world embraced the open trade policy in early-1990’s.
During that time international foreign currency cash transactions were done only through big banks, and between and among the central banks of different countries, huge multi national corporations and giant insurance companies whose global operations were liven up by the open market policies embraced by almost all nations at that time. The transactions were usually in large volumes hardly imaginable by individual investors. Forwards or currency futures contracts were then traded through established exchanges like the International Monetary Market (IMM) of the Chicago Board of Trade and the London International Financial Futures Exchange. As global trade increased, so did the volume of foreign currency transactions which also brought about rapid and frequent swings in the rates of exchange of the different currencies. Entities involved in cash transactions found it necessary to hedge their risks with currency futures. Currency futures brokers on the other hand found it necessary to source their requirements for maturing obligations from the cash market. And that developed the linkages between the two markets - one , an informal network consisting of banks, multinational companies, and insurance giants linked electronically with each other, the other the established financial futures exchanges around the globe.
The increasing risks from exchange rate fluctuations forced some of the smaller banks dealing in spot cash transactions to find a way to spread out the risks. They needed volume. They needed more participants to partake the risks. So they adopted the leveraged trading system (margin trading) of the financial futures exchanges. Retail, off exchange foreign currency trading was thus born,
The boiler room operators were quick to identify this evolving opportunity for them in the rapidly changing financial market place. Leveraged trading was their forte and by experience, they knew that the unlearned investors would easily fall prey to another get-rich-quick scam specially so if they can easily pass it off as being bank-based! But are they?
One clear cut difference between a legitimate broker dealing in retail foreign currency trading (leveraged forex trading) and the forex boiler room operator is the fact that legitimate brokers are accredited investment intermediaries of either a bank or a member broker of an established currency futures exchange, while the boiler room operator operates on his own, faking off the linkages to the legitimate currency market participants with the use of sophisticated trading software and subscription to live market data feeds from legitimate sources.
A system to stream live the actual spot foreign currency transactions of various major participating banks, financial institutions and currency futures exchanges worldwide was developed by both Dow Jones and Telerate years before they merged. Anyone may subscribe to these services for a fee. And true enough, these services were used to the hilt by boiler room operators world wide using their own trading platforms which simulates actual trading in the interbank spot currency market. However, the funds invested through them were never really coursed to the inter-bank spot currency network, much less to a bank or an exchange. the money was simply bucketed!
Performance Foreign Exchange Corporation uses the eForex Asia trading platform the parent company of which Michael Liew also helped establish. Why didn’t the authorities then push on the investigation all the way to eForex Asia. This would have shown that neither PFEC nor eForex Asia have legitimate linkages to the forex market place. This would have proven PFEC is indeed selling the investing public short. This would have proven that online forex trading through PFEC is no different from the online casinos you see sprouting everywhere.