Beware! Sierrainvest is an offshore broker! Your investment may be at risk.
RECOMMENDED FOREX BROKERS
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Open trading accounts with at least two brokers.
Sierrainvest claims to be an international broker with years of experience in financial markets. But this website gives us no good reason to believe these claims. Closer inspection reveals that the Sierrainvest has all the basic characteristics of a fraud. Under no circumstances should you trust Sierrainvest – it is a fake broker designed to scam you out of your money.
SIERRAINVEST REGULATION AND SAFETY OF FUNDS
The owner of the website is the company Tetris Group LTD , incorporated in the Commonwealth of Dominica. That in itself is reason enough to avoid Sierrainvest. This offshore zone is popular with financial fraudsters. Although this country has a financial regulator – Financial Services Unit (FSU), It does not license or supervise forex brokers. This means that if you deal with a brokers registered there, they are completely unaccountable and you have no guarantees about the safety of your money – in fact, it is almost certain that they are scammers. The Commonwealth of Dominica also allows incorporation of totally anonymous International Business Companies (IBCs) which is very convenient for these scammers.
It should be noted that we were unable to locate Tetris Group in the FSU database, so it is unclear whether this offshore company even exists. The legal picture around the Sierrainvest becomes even murkier when we look at the Terms and Conditions, where it is written that disputes between the company and customers will be resolved by the courts in Poland.
There is no trace of Tetris Group or Sierrainvest in the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF) database, so this claim is a lie. Tetris Group’s fraudulent activity has, however, come to the attention of another European regulator, the Italian CONSOB. The institution has blacklisted several websites linked to the company:
Under no circumstances should you trust your money to such anonymous sites full of false and contradictory information. Instead, you can turn to one of the many companies that really work under the supervision of respected regulatory bodies like Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) or Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK. As their customer you will enjoy a number of guarantees including negative balance protection and guarantee for your funds if the broker goes bankrupt, which goes up to EUR 20,000 in EU and 85,000 GBP in the UK. Regulations in the UK and EU include some important measures designed to improve investor protection and promote market integrity and transparency, such as transaction reporting. Regulated brokers are also required to segregate their operational funds from the client’s money.
SIERRAINVEST TRADING SOFTWARE
Sierrainvest uses WebTrader, which it falsely claims to be the most popular trading software among brokers worldwide. Here’s what the platform looks like:
While the platform has the basic features for placing orders, customizing charts and application of technical indicators, it lacks the more advanced functionality found in the most widely used trading platforms in the industry, MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and MetaTrader 5 (MT5). These platforms have established themselves as industry standard because they offer a wide range of features, including a variety of options for customization, multiple account usage, designing and implementing custom scripts for automated trading and backtesting trade strategies.
It should be stressed that the presence of a trading platform does not make this website any more legitimate and does not guarantee that this alleged broker offers real trading. Many scammers have trading software to fool their victims that their money is being invested.
SIERRAINVEST TRADING CONDITIONS
The Sierrainvest website describes four types of trading accounts – Beginner, Advanced, Progressive and Professional. The minimum deposit is 250 USD. With the same or a smaller amount you could open a trading account with a licensed and regulated broker.
A spread of 2.9 pips is listed for the starting account. This corresponds to what was seen in the trading platform, where the benchmark currency pair EUR/USD was at a spread of 3 pips. This level is far from competitive – even levels above 2 pips are considered too high and unprofitable for the trader. The Terms and Conditions state that the Sierrainvest also charges brokerage fees or commissions for executing trades, but nowhere specifies their amount.
The website states that leverage depends on the asset, but nowhere are specific levels stated. The trading platform has a leverage of 1:200, which is further evidence that Sierrainvest could not be a broker based in a EU country like Poland. The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and accordingly all EU regulators limit leverage to 1:30. High leverage creates the opportunity for more significant profit, but correspondingly increases the risk of sudden and excessive losses. All leading regulators therefore restrict leverage for retail traders.
Another such piece of evidence is Sierrainvest ‘s claim that it offers bonuses, a practice banned by all leading regulators.
SIERRAINVEST DEPOSIT/WITHDRAW METHODS AND FEES
Like most scammers of this type, Sierrainvest only uses cryptocurrencies as a payment method. Scammers prefer cryptocurrencies because these transactions are not subject to refunds. While there are some legitimate brokers that accept Bitcoin, they do so alongside other transparent payment methods such as credit/debit card, bank transfer or popular e-wallets like PayPal, Neteller or FasaPay.
The Terms and Conditions state that there are no deposit and withdrawal fees if you use credit/debit cards – but what we saw is that you cannot deposit money with credit/debit cards. At the same time, the separate Deposits and Withdrawals Policy states that there are withdrawal fees, but again does not specify the amount. The legal documentation also specifies that the withdrawal can only be in the same FIAT currency as the deposit – although FIAT currencies cannot be used for deposit. So it is not clear what the actual terms of the Sierrainvest are.
In the text of the Terms and Conditions we find another typical scammer’s trap – if the account has received a bonus, the withdrawal of funds becomes conditional on meeting the minimum traded volume requirements. These requirements are extremely high – 25 times the bonus amount plus the deposit.
Sierrainvest also charges a fee for an inactive account, but again does not specify the exact amount.
HOW DOES THE SCAM WORK
Fake brokers are a type of scam that has spread especially rapidly in recent years, aided by the excitement surrounding cryptocurrencies. People looking for ways to make money online can very easily come across one of the many scam websites of this type. Scammers are very skilled at convincing people to invest – first small amounts of a few hundred dollars, and then larger sums of money. Some of the scam schemes are quite elaborate and even use trading software to convince victims that their money is actually being invested and even racking up profits.
But when you ask to withdraw those winnings, or even your deposit, you’ll find it’s impossible – you’ll be told that a sudden change in the market has wiped out all your money, or that you have to meet impossible minimum trading volume requirements and pay huge fees and commissions hidden in the terms and conditions. Fraudsters can also simply disappear because they use fake names and offshore shell companies for their operations.
WHAT TO DO WHEN SCAMMED
If you find yourself scammed, the first thing you should do is notify the financial authorities in your country about the scammers’ activities, and spread the word online to warn other potential victims.
Your options for getting your money back are limited. If credit or debit cards were used for the transactions to the scammers, you have the option to request a chargeback. Companies like Visa and MasterCard now allow such requests to be made up to 540 days after the transaction. But keep in mind that if you have provided proof of your identity to the fraudsters, they may dispute that the transaction was voluntary. In addition, fraudsters typically use cryptocurrencies and shady e-wallets that do not allow refunds.
Victims of scams are often targeted by another type of online fraudsters who promise that their money can be refunded for an upfront fee. Under no circumstances should you trust such offers.