Thursday, August 13, 2015

iFollow.club looks like recruitment spam

I am always on the lookout for interesting investments. I read a bit on Binary Options and how it is likened to gambling where you have approximately a 55% chance of losing your investment with each trade/bet.
But there is also "social trading" where you can mirror the trades of "successful investors".

Enter iFollow.Club, one of these "social trading" sites. They tout an "autopilot" way to make money over 7 days:

your first 7 days on iFollow

So did it work for me?

NOT EVEN CLOSE.

And I say this WITHOUT HAVING MADE A SINGLE TRADE.

You are probably thinking, "WTF?". Read on.

Once you do the free sign-up portion on the website, you start getting e-mails like this one, offering "free cash" when you fund your account with the minimum $250.

2015-Jul-29 iFollow free cash

I waited and wanted to know more. Eventually I got this e-mail explaining iFollow.Club's social trading structure.

2015-Jul-28 This is how you actually make money on iFollow
Read it carefully and you will spot all sorts of interesting details:
  • It suggests that you will automatically have successful trades by following "top investors". There is no mention that trades could be unsuccessful and lose your money.
  • It says you will "Join Canada's #1 Regulated broker". iFollow.Club is in the United States, according to the fine print. Also, if you make the $250 deposit, it starts an account with Interactive Option, which is in Cyprus.
Supposedly once you fund your account you will get a call from a broker and get a "100% Bonus" on your deposit. I missed the call from the broker but he e-mailed me:

2015-Aug-3 first contact from Interactive Option - no mention of iFollow

Bigger problems now:
  • NO MENTION of iFollow, much less the "100% Bonus".
  • NO MENTION of social trading.
  • The talk of "tailored trading tuition, signal service, technical and fundamental analysis" could be upsell pitches.
I e-mailed him back citing iFollow and their process of social trading. I NEVER heard back from him again. More than that, iFollow.club and Interactive Option stopped talking to me until I called my VISA card.

My VISA card said deposits cannot be reversed. Since I couldn't get anyone from iFollow or Interactive Option to respond to me for a full refund, I sent my VISA card a dispute request, saying I had been misled by iFollow into starting an account with Interactive Option, which has so far made no mention of iFollow.

A couple of days later, Interactive Option's compliance department seemed to start taking me seriously. They still NEVER made any mention of iFollow, but claiming that they needed to comply with regulations, asked for identity documents such as government issued ID or passport, a copy of a bill with my address, and a picture of my credit card with details like the expiration date concealed.

I initially just gave them my credit card asking for a reversal of the transaction; I withheld my ID saying that given their affiliation with iFollow, I no longer trusted them and was wary of identity theft. They never said why that could not be done, but insisted on the ID.
We were at an impasse so I gave them my ID, including a bank statement from a bank where I had no funds. (I write cheques to it from my online bank so that I can get cashier's cheques and the like in person).

Today, they assured me that a full refund of my deposit, without any deductions, would be made to my credit card. (UPDATE: 250 USD refund has showed up in my credit card statement, transaction date Aug-13, posted date Aug-17. I lost some CAD due to the exchange rate, but the 250 USD was refunded in full by Interactive Option, as promised.)

Meanwhile... iFollow long since stopped communicating with me about a refund or why Interactive Option never mentioned them. But they now started to spam me with incentives to recruit others for them. Below you can see some of their recruitment e-mails, disguising themselves variously as Yahoo!, Skype, Google, and others.

I have to admit that once Interactive Option started to handle my refund request, they have at least communicated professionally. I am still disappointed that they have not owned up to their affiliation with iFollow. And considering they are getting accounts through iFollow.Club spam mail and suspicious practices, I can't honestly give them a lot of credibility.

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