MetaTrader 4 is, without a doubt, the face of the forex trading industry. If you trade forex, you’ve probably been introduced to MT4 at some point. If you’ve unfortunately been the victim of a forex scam, MT4 was probably at the centre of it.
This article explores the various types of MetaTrader 4 scams and how different types of fraud and deception use MT4 as a prop in their scheme.
What we cover here
Is MetaTrader 4 legit
Hundreds, perhaps even thousands of legitimate, regulated and prominent forex brokers use MetaTrader 4 as their primary trading platform. Many of the brokers that reputable traders recommend and cooperate with use this trading platform. MetaQuotes, the developer of MT4, is a well-known software development company which provides platforms complying with the strictest IT security standards set forth by financial regulators in all corners of the world.
However, MetaQuotes is a commercial software vendor and will sell their software licenses to any business with the means to pay for it. MetaQuotes is not responsible or liable for their client’s actions. However, many traders are unaware that the reputable MetaTrader 4 brand they see everywhere has almost no impact on the reliability of the broker that they choose to trade with.
MetaTrader 4 is only as legit as the broker operating the platform. Brokers can manipulate any data on the platform. Your deposits can be erased, trades can be altered, and live market data can be skewed. The only thing stopping your broker from doing this is their business ethics and the fact that it’s illegal.
Why scam forex brokers use MetaTrader 4
There are a few simple reasons why brokers favour MetaTrader 4 to operate scams.
- Because of how familiar the platform is in the forex community, new traders doing research will conclude that MT4 is a trusted platform, and experienced traders will already be familiar with the application.
- Compared to the amount of money scam brokers can steal, the platform is relatively inexpensive. Also, it’s quick and easy to set up.
- MetaQuotes offers a solution to generate white labels, which means a license holder can create multiple brands. As one brand is discovered to be a fraud, they shut it down and make another with minimal cost or effort.
MetaTrader 4 is hosted by the brokers on their own equipment. This allows them to connect any market data feeds they wish, edit data directly from the database, and install plugins to alter the platform’s functionality rig the market in their favour.
The Metatrader4 App is widely popular and has over 700k reviews. But which data feed is connecting to your app?
MetaTrader 4 scams
Forex scammers love to use MetaTrader 4 within their schemes. Doing so adds instant legitimacy to whatever deception they’re trying to pull off. For any scam to be successful, the offender needs to establish trust with the victim. Using a popular platform will help to gain the confidence of the mark.
It’s not just forex brokers who can use MT4 as their stage to perform scam forex traders. You’ll find signal providers, money managers, and robot developers all favour this popular platform for their plots.
Imitating respected forex brokers, operating bucket shops and boiler rooms and manipulating trading conditions are some of the ways MetaTrader 4 has been used by forex broker scams.
Imitation (clone brokers)
A common scam used to trick forex traders is to imitate another broker. Prominent brands in the forex industry regularly deal with con artists imitating their brand by cloning their website and launching their own MetaTrader 4 platform. To the victim, it looks like they are registering with a legitimate broker, but really, it’s an illusion. The con artists will only take their money and disappear, leaving the victim thinking a regulated company robbed them. Unfortunately, in these cases, all the regulators can warn other traders to prevent it from happening again in these cases. The victims of forex clone scams need to find alternative means of recourse.
Bucket shops and boiler rooms
Besides posing as reputable brokers, forex scammers operate bucket shops using boiler rooms that employ aggressive sales tactics to convince traders to invest in unknown and unverified brokers or investment products. A bucket shop is a derogatory term for an unregulated firm offering high-risk financial markets derivatives. Bucket shops have a reputation for employing unscrupulous tactics to rig the market in their favour. A boiler room is an outbound call centre which uses high-pressure sales tactics to sell questionable investments products. Boiler rooms are often associated with investment scams and fraud.
A boiler room can support a vast network of bucket shops, calling up the same individuals and try to sign them up to different brands. Once someone signs up with a bucket shop, the experience will feel a lot like any other broker. You’ll have a login to a client zone and access a MetaTrader 4 account. The experience will be seamless until you ask to withdraw your money.
Regulated and unregulated brokers have the means to manipulate the data on their MT4 platform. Many traders believe that MetaTrader 4 is their gateway to the forex market. Unfortunately, they are gravely mistaken. MT4 was never designed to connect to the forex market. Straight-through-processing brokers require sophisticated bridging technologies to connect their MetaTrader server to the forex market. As MT4 doesn’t necessarily connect to the market, it leaves a window of opportunity for brokers to manipulate market data with the object of hitting stop losses and avoiding take profits. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence online suggesting some brokers use automated plugins to manipulate market data and scam traders into losing their investments. Brokers don’t need to steal your money; they need you to think that you lost it yourself.
How to avoid MetaTrader 4 scams
To avoid MetaTrader 4 scams, your approach needs to be a touch more sophisticated than if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Most forex broker scams aren’t trying to sell you on life-changing returns. Sure, they might bluff somewhat and say forex trading isn’t as hard as you think it is. Their objective is to convince you they are a legitimate broker when, in reality, they will take your money and do everything within their capabilities to make you lose.
To avoid forex broker scams, you need to keep your eyes peeled and look for anything that seems suspicious. Here are a few points to consider:
- Are the salespeople too aggressive? An ethical broker wouldn’t push products on someone who doesn’t feel confident they are suitable.
- Is the phone number or email address used by the scammer listed on the broker’s website?
- Are you asked to deposit money using unorthodox methods, such as Bitcoin or an offshore bank account?
- Is the broker trying to advise on how to trade or offer you a passive investment program where they manage your trading account?
What you need to remember is that MetaTrader 4 is merely a tool. If you’re new to the forex industry and have had a bad experience, you might dismiss MT4 as a scam. However, that would be much like calling Facebook or WhatsApp a scam if someone used those platforms to carry out their fraud. Your due diligence needs to focus on your relationship with the broker, rather than the platform.
If you’ve been scammed and would like to know if there is any possibility of recovering your money, contact us here.