Beware! PBNMarkets is an offshore broker! Your investment may be at risk.
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PBNMarkets is a Forex brokerage registered in the Marshall Islands. It provides the MT4 trading platform and an extremely generous leverage of up to 1:500. Furthermore, there is a wide range of trading products from which to choose and a required minimum deposit of $500 which is significantly above the industry average and not in favor for traders. Through a demo account we could see a spread of 1.5 pips which is nothing out of the ordinary.
PBNMarkets regulation & safety of funds
According to the website the company which owns thebrokerage is registered in the Marshall Islands by the name Capital Tech Limited and the company operating is is registered in Bulgaria.
Bulgaria a member-state of the European Union and online Forex trading is duly integrated within its regulatory framework which is modeled after the ESMA guidelines. However, we find no mention of a license by the Bulgarian authorities – thus we may safely conclude that the brokerage BTC Kingdom does not fall under any European regulatory oversight.
Furthermore, the Marshall Islands has become a top-destination for would-be scammers due to its very liberal laws regarding the registering of companies. The government does not even require for someone to be physically there in order to register a company. Such a loophole has surely been noticed by many ill-minded brokers and utilized. Nonetheless, it’s safe to assume that PBNMarkets, irrespective of its legitimacy, does not fall under any regulatory oversight whatsoever because the government of the Marshall Islands does not include Forex trading within its regulatory framework.
Putting that aside, even though the brokerage purports to provide the MetaTrader 4 trading platform and through a demo account we could see a spread of 1.5 pips which is just about the industry average. There are more than 60 currency pairs available and the leverage extended to traders is quite generous at 1:500. However, the offshore location of the brokerage and the obvious lack of regulation highly inclines us to suspect that potential clients of the brokerage may be open to substantial risk.
Traders needn’t have to worry themselves with such risk if they choose to trade with a brokerage regulated and authorized by a prestigious regulatory agency. Such agencies are the FCA in the UK or CySec in Cyprus which have been leading names in Forex trading for some time now. Their regulatory framework is composed of a number of strict rules which prevent clients from falling victims to fraud. Such rules include the segregation of accounts which assures that commingling with the client’s money is not possible. Furthermore, a license by such a regulatory body entails participation in a financial mechanism by which clients may be compensated if they suffer losses due to fraud or bankruptcy. The FCA provides up to 85 000 pounds per person, while CySEC guarantees up to 20 000 euros.
PBNMarkets deposit/withdrawal methods and fees
In the terms and conditions of the brokerage we did find quite a few troubling provisions.
If an account has not been active for more than three months the brokerage will charge a dormant account fee of $38 every following month. This certainly isn’t that excessive but it should be, nonetheless, noted.
Furthermore, the bonus promotion of the broker is tied up with a trading turnover requirement of 50 lots for every bonus of $200. This practically makes it on the verge of impossible to withdraw your money after having taken advantage of the bonus promotion. Here is a screenshot:
Last but not least, the brokerage requires a minimum withdrawal amount of $50 for withdrawals via wire transfer which is another unnecessary provision which makes us question the intentions of the broker. PBN Markets further states that only one withdrawal per month will be free of charge but does not specify the amount of the fee. Another move typical for a scammer. Here is a screenshot:
This is why we always advise traders to put up only the required minimum deposit, instead of risking a bigger amount with no certainty. Afterwards, they may also try to withdraw a small amount in order to check for any unexpected fees or delays. Such fees and delays are usually the signs of a scammer.
How does the scam work?
Unfortunately, the possibility of a scam looms over almost every trade in Forex, especially if you are dealing with an unregulated brokerage. That is why we believe traders should be acquainted with the methods of a scam. Here is how it would typically go about:
Through clicking an ad with promises for fast money, you will be redirected to a website such as Bitcoin Evolution or Crypto Cash where registration will require you to give your address, email and phone number. After sharing your personal information, you will being receiving calls from brokers, compelling you to invest with them and win big. After a few minutes hearing their pitches, you decide to deposit some $200-250. And just like that – the scammers take a fat commission from this initial deposit.
After they are done with you, senior scammers begin working you into putting even more money. They say it’s the only way to profit from trading even more. After making the mistake of investing even further, you’ll begin wanting to get out of this and withdraw what you have left.
Unfortunately, the con-artists have no such thing in mind. They will now begin persuading you to wait it out and not withdraw right now. The motive here is quite straightforward – traders have a limited time window for filing a chargeback with their bank and get their money back. The “recovery department” will simply want to mislead you into missing this crucial period and, along the way, losing any chance you might have of getting the money back.
What to do when scammed?
As was mentioned above, scamming is quite the common in the trading world and, sadly, even you might suffer from it. In such an unfortunate case there still may be some available options for you.
You may contact your bank or credit card provider and file a chargeback. Furthermore, due to the high instances of fraud – both Visa and MasterCard have decided to sidestep scammers as best they can in Forex trading. The first thing we have seen so far is that MasterCard has increased the previous time period of six months for filing a chargeback to a year and a half.
If, however, you have provided the broker with your credit card details, immediately cancel your credit card.
If you have given information regarding your online banking pass – you should switch it asap!
Beware of potential calls from self-described “recovery agencies”! They prey on scammed and vulnerable traders who are desperate to recover their losses. They will require an “up-front” payment to help you, but after paying them, no such help will be coming your way!