Identity theft from Belgian brokers: beware of fraud!

Cloned firms: a man holds a stop sign in his hand

In recent weeks, the FSMA has observed several cases of theft of the identity of Belgian brokers by English-speaking fraudsters. The swindlers use the names of brokers entered in the registers of the FSMA to make their clients believe that they are authorized by the Belgian supervisory authority.

Some English-speaking fraudsters are using the names of brokers who are registered with the FSMA, in order to make their clients believe that they are authorized by the FSMA.

They do so by fraudulently using the name and other legally required information of a regulated service provider, and often refer to the official website of the FSMA in an attempt to convince consumers that they are duly authorized. Consumers are thereby tricked into thinking that they are dealing with a regulated broker, whereas the latter’s identity has in fact been stolen.

In most cases, the fraudsters create a website with a web address that corresponds to the name of the intermediary whose identity they have stolen.

How to avoid the trap?

This fraudulent practice may be difficult to detect and avoid. We therefore encourage you to take the following steps to ensure that your interlocutor is indeed who he or she claims to be:

  • Verify the contact details for the company in question listed on the FSMA’s website and check that they are the same as the one the company provides on its own website.

Please note! It is nevertheless frequently the case that fraudsters also steal the postal address of the authorized company. The fact that the correct postal address is used by the company that has contacted you is therefore not enough to confirm its identity! 

  • Use online search engines to ensure that there is no other website under the name of the authorized company.

Beware! Swindlers often use a web address that is very close to that of the official site of the company whose identity they have stolen, just adding a hyphen to the address, using a different extension (.com instead of .be, for example), etc., or they steal the identity of an intermediary that does not use a website.

  • Compare the official information with the facts. For example, if your interlocutor claims to represent a company based in Belgium but is contacting you from a foreign phone number, this should serve as a warning sign. Similarly, you should be wary if the company’s website is in English only, whereas the company claims to be based in Belgium.
  • Use online tools that allow you to verify the date when your interlocutor’s website was created. If the website is very recent, this is a significant indication that it may not be reliable.
  • If you have any doubt whatsoever about the identity of your interlocutor, please contact the FSMA using the electronic consumer contact form.