$10m Lawsuit filed in Tel Aviv District Court
A Hong Kong citizen has filed a claim for NIS 36 million against Israeli binary options company Toro Media in the Tel Aviv District Court. The claim is that over a period of 18 months the owners and employees of Toro Media caused her huge losses by stealing her money through the guise of binary options investment advice. The lawsuit claims that the company persuaded her to make investments and that her money would be assured, there was no risk and that she would make huge profits. In hindsight, she realized that she was a victim to a plot to steal $10 million from her, which left her destitute and needing to borrow money from the bank and her family in order to survive.
In the lawsuit, filed by Adv. Veronica Birman, it is charged that Toro Media’s owner Tomer Levi and a long list of employees allegedly behaved deceitfully by using fictional identities and names, making false claims that they were former employees of leading investment bank Goldman Sachs in order to tempt, defraud, and steal $10 million from the plaintiff.
The lawsuit also claims, “There is no way to describe the actions of those being sued other than as sophisticated criminal operatives. We are not only talking about fraud and deception of inconceivable sums but also a complex and extensive operation created by the defendants in order to hide behind straw companies, false and fictional names and identities, and all this in order to persuade the plaintiff to fall deeper into the trap in which they buried her and which to her regret she fell into.”
The lawsuit reveals the face of the unregulated binary options industry which has shaken the capital market in recent years. The unregulated binary options trading arena has provided fertile ground for fraud. In many cases the arena has provided cover for criminal activity, deceit and fraud. This phenomenon snowballed until it attracted major negative fallout worldwide and generated significant damage to Israel’s image in general and its capital market in particular.
These activities earned Israel’s binary options traders the nickname the “Wolves of Tel Aviv” after complaints proliferated. Eventually the Israel Securities Authority (ISA) began investigating and prohibited binary options from being offered to Israelis. When the complaints continued from overseas victims, the ISA enacted a law completely banning binary option trading.
In this latest lawsuit, it is also claimed that Toro Media went under a number of false names, straw companies, offshore entities and other names including OptionsXO. However, the lawsuit claims that all these companies were based in Toro’s offices in Herzliya, Israel.
The Long Con
It all began in 2015 when surfing the internet, an ad from OptionsXO appeared with the headline “The Secret Millionaires Society Program.” The ad offered a 90% profit for an investment of $250. In registering she entered her credit card details in order to pay the required $250. According to Loke, from the moment she registered she was tempted by an aggressive campaign from various parties to invest in binary options.
According to the lawsuit, she was first contacted by Jordan Richmond (a fictional name) from Toro Media who persuaded her to open an account with OptionsXO, which it became clear is one of Toro Media’s straw companies. Sixty-seven pages of the law suit recount the sad saga by which Loke was drawn deeper and deeper into investing large sums by a succession of representatives with fictional names.
At one point she wanted out but the binary options company refused to close her account. However, even though she had lost considerable sums, she still fully believed that OptionsXO was a legitimate company dealing in serious financial instruments.
In September 2016, she discovered the truth when the US Treasury stopped two of her money transfers to OptionsXO. In January 2017, Loke was told that the Treasury was refusing to release her money because Counting House, a company which cleared money for OptionsXO was on a blacklist of companies defined as criminal and terrorist organizations.
Those being sued by Loke include Toro owner and CEO Tomer Levi, who it is claimed operated the entire network; Adv. Shachar Shimony, who holds in trust for Levi all Toro’s shares and is therefore formally attached to the lawsuit; Amir Kahana CPA who served as Toro’s CFO and was allegedly responsible for transferring her money while being aware that the plaintiff was being given false presentations about supposed binary options accounts while knowing that there was no trading and that the defendants intended to steal the money. Also being sued is Glen Nitan from Toro’s call center who according to the plaintiff spoke to her using the fictional name of Glen Nelson and that he was an experienced broker who had previously worked at Goldman Sachs. He allegedly persuaded her to transfer money into her account at Toro Media through false presentations about large profits that had accrued in her account.
Similar claims are made against Toro’s VP Sales Idan Gur. According to the suit he used the name John Lewis and he allegedly threatened her when he discovered that she had hired legal representation.
Also being sued is Itay Ziv, who presented himself as Eitan Stark and claimed he was the owner of OptionsXO although it became clear that he is an employee of Toro Media. He would scream over the phone at her about paying the money she owed even when she claimed to be destitute.
Also named in the suit is Rona Hanna Bender who went under the name of Kim Francis and was part of Toro Media’s administrative team.
Article featured in Globes. Written by Ela Levi-Weinrib.
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