“I lost all my life savings to binary options scammers, please help!”, “I am left with no money to pay for anything. Can you sue the bastards?”
These are just two of dozens of heartfelt pleas we receive from people who believed the scammers and “invested” in what are known as “binary options.” The common practice among lawyers who pursue these scammers professionally is to charge a small, nonrefundable, non-contingent upfront fee. Upon recovery, the lawyer receives a percentage of the money recovered.
However, sometimes a scam victim asks us to work “pro bono”… meaning, for free. One of these turned out to be sales manager of a car dealership. He does not provide cars for free: his business has bills. Ours does, too.
Some ask us to work on a full contingency basis. That means no upfront payment, but a percentage of any money recovered. This type of fee arrangement is common in tort litigation against insurance companies. But it is rarely used in commercial matters, and for “binary options” cases it is not appropriate. The reasons are simple. With a case against an insurance company, for instance, you know what company to sue; where to find it; and that, if you win, you’ll get paid. But what are the chances of even finding a fly by night binary options company, let alone collecting from it?
Indeed, when we recover some or all of a victim’s lost funds, we are compensated for our work. However, sometimes we fail. When that happens, our upfront fee was only for a tiny fraction of the total hourly fee you would pay in other commercial cases, whether you won or lost.
Identifying and locating the culprits is the first uphill battle: Binary options companies, for the most part, have a pre-conceived intent to defraud. They plan accordingly. Their sales agents just yesterday sold pizza or used cars. Now they’re “investment consultants,” who give you fictitious “stage names.” In fact, they are in Ramat Gan, Israel; in Bucharest, Romania; in Mauritius; or in many another remote destination. But they say they are calling you from London or Zurich, and that’s supposedly where you call them. Little wonder, therefore, that you might not realize you’ve been scammed and need a lawyer until your “investment” is gone, and they’re no longer taking your calls.
At the onset, the lawyer must identify the culprits. Not an easy task, given that the company has already folded and resurfaced in another jurisdiction, using another name, and under a new legal system. So, whom do you chase? A now-defunct company with no assets? The new company that legally owes you nothing, even if you can establish a connection between the two?
Therefore, in reality, only the principals of the scamming binary options company remain as potential targets for recovery. But who are they, really, and where do they hide? It takes a lot of sleuthing by an experienced lawyer/intelligence operative to identify and locate them. That costs money. A lot. This explains why most lawyers in this specialized asset recovery field request a small, non-contingent upfront fee that cannot be waived, and why they cannot work on a full contingency basis. It’s to stay in the business of helping those whom binary options scams have harmed.