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Lead investigator for Manitoba Securities Commission finds himself at centre of worldwide effort to shut down massive Israeli scam

Jason RoyBy BERNIE BELLAN
There has been a rash of stories of late exposing one of the biggest scams operating anywhere in the world:  the selling of binary options.

What are binary options? Here is a definition from Wikipedia: “A binary option is a financial option in which the payoff is either some fixed monetary amount or nothing at all. While binary options theoretically play a role in asset pricing, they are prone to fraud and banned by regulators in many jurisdictions as a form of gambling. Many binary option outlets have been exposed as scams.”

Simona WeinglassIsraeli journalist blows the lid off the binary options con
The extent to which the binary option industry has a huge base in Israel was first exposed by a Times of Israel journalist by the name  of Simona Weinglass. Weinglass told me that she was born in Romania and moved to the U.S. with her parents, both of whom are electrical engineers, when she was one year old. She grew up in Philadelphia and attended Swarthmore College, she says, before moving to Israel.
In March 2016 Weinglass blew the lid off the Israeli binary options industry, which seems to have started sometime around 2008, Weinglass said to me in an email.
In an explosive – and courageous piece, titled  “The Wolves of Tel Aviv”, Weinglass explained in detail how Israeli call centres find innocent victims around the world. In a recently published article on the TOI website, Weinglass noted that “The industry here numbers over 100 companies, most of which are fraudulent and employ a variety of ruses to steal their clients’ money. These firms lure their victims into making what they are duped into believing will be profitable short-term investments, but in the overwhelming majority of cases the clients wind up losing all or almost all of their money. Thousands of Israelis work in the field, which is estimated to have fleeced tens of billions of dollars from victims all over the world in the past decade. In October, the Prime Minister’s Office called for the industry to be banned worldwide.”
So, how do the salespeople for the companies promoting binary options work? In her “Wolves of Tel Aviv” piece Weinglass explained it thusly: “Having transferred their first financial deposit to the company, customers log in to an online trading platform, as directed by the company’s salespeople, and place money on a prediction that the price of a currency or commodity will go up or down on international markets in, say, the next five minutes. If the customer predicts correctly, he makes a profit of a certain percentage and the company loses money. If the customer is wrong, he loses all the money he placed on the trade, and the company keeps it. Professional options traders consulted by The Times of Israel said that even a financial genius cannot predict with any confidence what, say, the price of gold will do in the next five minutes; rather than an investment, the transaction is really nothing more than a gamble.”
In that same piece Weinglass noted that employees working for Israeli binary options firms are trained in how to hide where they are calling from by using VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), which can disguise the origin of a phone call. Thus, someone in Manitoba might get a call that would show an Ontario area code, for instance, thus giving the impression that they were speaking to someone in Canada.

The technique used by binary options salespeople in Israel
Weinglass described the sales technique used by one salesperson for one of the Israeli companies selling binary options. That person would be sitting in a room somewhere in a Tel Aviv office building in what could be described as a “boiler room” (a phrase used to describe any operation that uses extremely hard sell techniques in an attempt to wear down unsuspecting victims over the phone). Here is Weinglass’s vivid description of the con used by that salesperson: “Guralnek sat in a call center with about 50 other employees, many of whom were new immigrants fluent in a variety of languages. His job was to call people around the world and persuade them to ‘invest’ in an ostensible financial product called ‘binary options.’ The clients would be encouraged to make a ‘deposit’ — to send money to his firm — and then use that money to make ‘trades’. The clients would try to assess whether a currency or commodity would go up or down on international markets within a certain, short period of time. If they predicted correctly, they won money, between 30 and 80 percent of the sum they had put down. If they were wrong, they forfeited all the money they put on that ‘trade. Guralnek soon saw that the more trades a client made, the closer they came to losing the entirety of their initial deposit.
“He had been instructed to present the binary option as an ‘investment’ and himself as a ‘broker,’ even though he knew they would most likely lose all their money. ‘The client isn’t actually buying anything. What he’s buying is a promise from our company that we will pay him. It’s gambling and we’re a bookie,’ he says now.”

As well, employees are trained in a variety of deceptive techniques, promising investors that they can get their money back when, in fact, the firms dealing in binary options hardly ever return anyone’s money. Further, employees are not even aware who owns the companies for which they are working.
Ironically, it is illegal for anyone in Israel to sell binary options to Israelis themselves. But these unscrupulous fraudsters have found unsuspecting victims around the globe, including at least 800 in Canada. It was the suicide last year of an Edmonton man who had lost over $330,000 as a result of falling victim to one of these binary option fraudsters that really brought Canadians’ attention to the insidious manner in which telephone solicitors lure naïve investors into their schemes.
Manitoba Securities Commission investigator takes lead role in trying to close down Israeli companies
One individual who who played a major part in attempting to have Israeli authorities ban all companies trading in binary options has been Jason Roy, who is the lead investigator for the Manitoba Securities Commission. Roy is the chair of the Canadian Securities Administrators’ binary options task force.
I spoke with Jason Roy recently. I suggested to Roy that the Israeli government had been “taking a stand-offish position with respect to the selling of binary options” – which had allowed the companies engaged in their selling to flourish.
“That has been the position (of the Israeli government) for some time, “ Roy agreed, “but there has been some pressure from North American regulators, European regulators, law enforcement, victims, as well as concerned citizens inside Israel about what’s happening there, along with the articles in the Times of Israel” to ban the companies engaged in the selling of binary options in Israel.
In Weinglass’s “Wolves of Tel Aviv” article, however, she noted that binary options salespeople are specifically told not to sell to anyone living in the U.S. I asked Roy why he thought that was?
He answered that he wasn’t sure of the reason and, notwithstanding the instructions not to sell to Americans, some salespeople have been contacting U.S. residents. “The FBI,” Roy noted though, “has recently come out and said it’s a $10 billion a year fraud and they’ve asked for investors (who have been contacted by binary options salespeople) to contact them.”
“The problem with this,” Roy continued, “is that there are literally thousands of websites” selling binary options. “New ones are created every day. They also list on their websites that their corporate registries are in Cyprus, or the Seychelles, or Belize or Panama or Gibraltar or the Marshall Islands – places that have secretive banking and easy corporate registration.”
“It’s also well known that the bulk of the boiler rooms – the places that are making the calls, are happening in Israel, “ Roy added.

Watch out for Internet ads promoting binary options
How do people end up being contacted by binary options salespeople? I asked Roy.
“There’s a ton of Facebook ads, a ton of Google adword ads,” he explained. As well, there are robocalls. “I personally received a robocall,” Roy says, during which he himself was pitched on getting into binary options.
I asked Roy to describe what went on during that call. He says that the call began with his being asked, “Do you want to get rich?  Press one – so I pressed one. I ended up speaking with a binary option trader for over an hour, but I used an alias that I’ve got for work purposes. So I was able to have this discussion. I actually opened up an account. They gave me free money – $100 to execute a couple of trades, then they walked me through some trades and they claimed to be in Toronto.
“The main pitch was they wanted my credit card. One of the things they offered was a bonus so that if you put in, say, $1,000, they put in $1,000. There’s lots of that – that’s what they’ll say. You actually never get that money and you can never take it out. That’s how they’ll entice you.
“They’ll actually lure you in with small requests. They’ll talk you into it saying, ‘it’s only 250 bucks – you can get your money back whenever you want. We’re going to give you this bonus. It’s a no-lose, no-risk proposition.’ That’s how they get people in the beginning. They  say, ‘hey, we don’t want five grand, we only want $250. We want to prove ourselves to you.’ ”
“You fund your account through your credit card,” Roy went on. “That ‘s how people find themselves victimized. When people have huge balances on their credit card they have to take from their line of credit or pull money from their RRSPs. We’ve got victims in Manitoba who have lost as much as $400,000.”
50 reports of binary option fraud reported to Manitoba Securities Commission in 2016 alone
“In 2016 we’ve had more than 50 matters involving binary option fraud in the province,” Roy noted, in response to a question how many Manitobans whom he knows of have been victimized.
Roy cautioned that “only a very small percentage of fraud is reported – and across the country the number is more than 800 reports of binary option fraud.”
I said to Roy though that “frustratingly, even if Israeli authorities knew the names of the people behind the binary option fraud schemes, they wouldn’t be able to do anything – correct?”
Roy agreed, saying that because of that particular problem (a lack of Israeli legislation to clamp down on binary option sellers), “we’ created a national task force in the summer, of which I’m the chairman. We created a bunch of initiatives,” including creating a website (binaryoptionfraud.ca) and issuing a press release – “to get the word out to Canadians” about binary option fraud.
“We’re looking to shut off the advertising that we talked about,” Roy added, because no binary option firms are licensed to operate in Canada, he explained, so there “should be no advertising.”
As well, “there are more than 500 apps for binary options where you can actually trade off your phone, but because there are no licensed firms here, our position is those apps should not be available in Canada,” Roy said.
I asked Roy whether he had any suspicion that the Russian Mafia is behind these binary option schemes. “They play for keeps,” I suggested. Roy didn’t offer an opinion, although in my correspondence with Simona Weinglass, she asked me whether I had any idea if there has been any criminal affiliation among the massive Russian-Israeli immigration to Winnipeg in recent years. I told her that I had once met someone who was Jewish (and who had come from Russia, not Israel) and who claimed to be part of the Russian Mafia, but that was the extent of my familiarity with the subject.

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Israel

Hamas murdered their friend. Now, they help Israeli soldiers to keep his memory alive

David Newman (right): David died helping to save the lives of others who were at the music festival on October 7 when Hamas massacred hundreds of attendees

By VIRGINIA ALLEN (The Daily Signal) David Newman sent a text to a friend the morning of Saturday, Oct. 7. Something terrible had happened. Word quickly spread among Newman’s group of friends, who had known each other since high school.
Newman, 25, had traveled the night before to the music festival in southern Israel, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. It was supposed to be a fun weekend with his girlfriend “celebrating life,” something Newman, who served with the Israel Defense Forces, was good at and loved to do, friend Gidon Hazony recalls.
When Hazony learned that Newman, his longtime friend, was in danger, he and another friend decided they were “going to go down and try and save him.” Trained as a medic and armed with a handgun and bulletproof vest, Hazony started driving south from Jerusalem.
Hazony and his friend ended up joining with other medical personnel and “treated probably around 50 soldiers and civilians in total that day,” Hazony recalls, but they kept trying to make it south to rescue Newman.

But the two “never made it down to the party, and that’s probably for the best,” Hazony says, “because that area was completely taken over by terrorists. And if we had gone down there, I think we would’ve been killed.”
Hazony later learned that Hamas terrorists had murdered Newman on Oct. 7, but not before Newman had saved nearly 300 lives, including the life of his girlfriend.
When the terrorists began their attack on the music festival, many attendees began running to their cars. But Newman and his girlfriend encountered a police officer who warned them to run the opposite direction because the terrorists were near the vehicles, says David Gani, another friend of Newman’s.
Newman “ran in the opposite direction with his girlfriend and whoever else he could kind of corral with him,” Gani explains during an interview on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
“They saw two industrial garbage cans, big containers, and so David told everyone, ‘Hide, hide in those containers,’” Gani says. “And so what he did over the course of the next few hours is, he would take people and … he was this big guy, and he would just chuck them in that container. And then he would go in, wait, wait till the coast is clear, and then he’d go back out, find more people, put them in there.”
Newman’s actions that day, and the atrocities Hazony and so many others in Israel witnessed Oct. 7, led Hazony, Gani, and several friends to quit their jobs and set up a nonprofit called Soldiers Save Lives. The organization is working to collect tactical and humanitarian aid for the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF.
According to the group’s website, Soldiers Save Lives has supplied over 20 IDF units and civilian response teams “with protective and self-defense gear.”
Gani, board chairman, chief financial officer, and chief technology officer of Soldiers Save Lives, and Hazony, president of the organization, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to raise support and awareness for their mission to provide IDF troops with needed supplies.
If you would like to find out more about Soldiers Save Lives or donate to them, go to https://www.soldierssavelives.org/
Reprinted with permission.

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Israel

Our New Jewish Reality

Indigo bookstore in Toronto defaced

By HENRY SREBRNIK Since Oct. 7, we Jews have been witnessing an ongoing political and psychological pogrom. True, there have been no deaths (so far), but we’ve seen the very real threat of mobs advocating violence and extensive property damage of Jewish-owned businesses, and all this with little forceful reaction from the authorities.
The very day after the carnage, Canadians awoke to the news that the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust had inspired sustained celebrations in its major cities. And they have continued ever since. I’d go so far as to say the Trudeau government has, objectively, been more interested in preventing harm to Gazans than caring about the atrocities against Israelis and their state.
For diaspora Jews, the attacks of Oct. 7 were not distant overseas events and in this country since then they have inspired anti-Semitism, pure and simple, which any Jew can recognize. Even though it happened in Israel, it brought back the centuries-old memories of defenseless Jews being slaughtered in a vicious pogrom by wild anti-Semites.
I think this has shocked, deeply, most Jews, even those completely “secular” and not all that interested in Judaism, Israel or “Zionism.” Jewish parents, especially, now fear for their children in schools and universities. The statements universities are making to Jewish students across the country could not be clearer: We will not protect you, they all but scream. You’re on your own.
But all this has happened before, as we know from Jewish history. Long before Alfred Dreyfus and Theodor Herzl, the 1881 pogroms in tsarist Russia led to an awakening of proto-Zionist activity there, with an emphasis on the land of Israel. There were soon new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
The average Jew in Canada now knows that his or her friend at a university, his co-worker in an office, and the people he or she socializes with, may in fact approve, or at least not disapprove, of what happened that day in Israel. Acquaintances or even close friends may care far more about Israel killing Palestinians in Gaza. Such people may even believe what we may call “Hamas pogrom denial,” already being spread. Many people have now gone so far in accepting the demonization of Israel and Jews that they see no penalty attached to public expressions of Jew-hatred. Indeed, many academics scream their hatred of Israel and Jews as loud as possible.
One example: On Nov. 10, Toronto officers responded to a call at an Indigo bookstore located in the downtown. It had been defaced with red paint splashed on its windows and the sidewalk, and posters plastered to its windows.
The eleven suspects later arrested claimed that Indigo founder Heather Reisman (who is Jewish) was “funding genocide” because of her financial support of the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which provides scholarships to foreign nationals who study in Israel after serving in the Israeli armed forces. By this logic, then, most Jewish properties and organizations could be targeted, since the vast majority of Jews are solidly on Israel’s side.
Were these vandals right-wing thugs or people recently arrived from the Middle East? No, those charged were mostly white middle-class professionals. Among them are figures from academia, the legal community, and the public education sector. Four are academics connected to York University (one of them a former chair of the Sociology Department) and a fifth at the University of Toronto; two are elementary school teachers; another a paralegal at a law firm.
Were their students and colleagues dismayed by this behaviour? On the contrary. Some faculty members, staff and students at the university staged a rally in their support. These revelations have triggered discussions about the role and responsibilities of educators, given their influential positions in society.
You’ve heard the term “quiet quitting.” I think many Jews will withdraw from various clubs and organizations and we will begin to see, in a sense like in the 1930s, a reversal of assimilation, at least in the social sphere. (Of course none of this applies to Orthodox Jews, who already live this way.)
Women in various feminist organizations may form their own groups or join already existing Jewish women’s groups. There may be an increase in attendance in K-12 Jewish schools. In universities, “progressive” Jewish students will have to opt out of organizations whose members, including people they considered friends, have been marching to the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar eliminationist rhetoric, while waving Palestinian flags.
This will mostly affect Jews on the left, who may be supporters of organizations which have become carriers of anti-Semitism, though ostensibly dealing with “human rights,” “social justice,” and even “climate change.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took part in a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm on Oct. 22 in which she chanted “crush Zionism” along with hundreds of other anti-Israel protesters. Israel is now unthinkingly condemned as a genocidal apartheid settler-colonialist state, indeed, the single most malevolent country in the world and the root of all evil.
New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens expressed it well in his Nov. 7 article. “Knowing who our friends aren’t isn’t pleasant, particularly after so many Jews have sought to be personal friends and political allies to people and movements that, as we grieved, turned their backs on us. But it’s also clarifying.”
Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.

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Israel

Former Winnipegger Vivian Silver, at first thought to have been taken hostage, has now been confirmed dead

Jewish Post & News file photo

Former Winnipegger and well-known Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver has now been confirmed as having been killed during the massacre of Israelis and foreign nationals perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Vivian, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri was originally thought to be among the more than 1200 individuals who were taken hostage by Hamas.

To read the full story on the CBC website, go to https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/israel-gaza-vivian-silver-1.7027333

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