WARNING: This is a lengthy article, but if you care about your money, you should read it. iMarketsLive recently held events in Barbados and Trinidad. From what I understand the Barbados event had a huge attendance (several hundred, possibly thousands from what I remember hearing).
This piqued my interest in iMarketsLive itself. Was this a potential scam in the making? In this post I will refrain from answering that with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Rather, the objective of this post is to help you to arrive at your own definitive answer, or at the very least, to provide you with another opinion to help decide for/against the opinions that you already have.
Please refer to the References section at the end of this article for direct links to various sources cited. The referencing system used is the Harvard system (Author Surname, Year of publication). If you see “n.d.” it means that I could not find a publication date.
First things first, who/what is iMarketsLive? According to their website (iMarketsLive, n.d.-a):
International Markets Live provides highly effective tools & services to help traders make the right decisions in the FOREX & Futures markets. Our services are exclusive and can only be accessed through our membership. Led by a brilliant & experienced executive team, the company is growing exponentially and is currently helping of thousands of traders become successful.
Secondly, what is the Forex market? Forex is short for Foreign Exchange, and yes, there’s a market for it. It’s somewhat similar to individuals buying and selling USD among themselves, or other currencies such as CAN or Euros or Pounds. However, the Forex market is infinitely larger and infinitely more complex. It is a global market where trading volume is measured in trillions of USD and consists of different currencies, as well as buyers and sellers such as individuals, banks, firms, governments, et cetera. Many factors affect currency prices including economic performance and government stability (Investopedia, n.d.-a; BabyPips.com, n.d.).
Forex trading is not something to be taken lightly. An article by Fisher-French (2017) goes into some of the myths and truths surrounding FOREX trading. Here are a few excerpts (albeit cautionary excerpts):
Any real trader will tell you that spending a weekend learning the “secrets of trading” will not make you a trader, only experience will.
As Simon Brown of online financial education site justonelap.com explains, forex trading is more or less a zero-sum game – for a trader to make money, somebody needs to lose.
“It’s the most liquid market in the world and the best traders in the world gravitate to forex, so you need to beat the best. This will take time,” he says.
Duncan compares forex trading with learning to drive a car – if you try to drive a car after only reading the learner’s licence manual, you are going to have an accident.
“You need to invest a few years and education. If you are not willing to do that, you will have an accident.”
“Making money from forex trading, indeed even making a living from forex trading, certainly is possible, but the idea of it being easy and quick is not true,” says Simon Brown.
Does that mean it’s all doom and gloom for Forex trading? Of-course not, there are success stories as well (Google, n.d.). The point is this: Forex trading is not something that you can learn over-night, nor is it easy. If anyone tells you otherwise, either they don’t understand it themselves, or there is a very good chance that you are being scammed.
I’ve been aware of Forex trading for a number of years. Murphy (2017) provides a very detailed free tutorial on Forex and I suggest that people read it before playing the market. After doing your homework, you can setup a demo trading account. There are numerous trading simulators such as OANDA (2018) which will let you do this at little/no-risk to you and your hard earned money.
Thirdly, what are Futures Markets? This is a market for the buying and selling of futures contracts. What is a futures contract? It is a legal agreement between a buyer and a seller to receive or deliver something in the future but at a price that’s agreed upon today (Charles Schwab & Co., n.d.). That “something” can be almost anything including oil, currencies and various commodities (Milton, 2018).
If you decide to trade in Forex or Futures, which one should you trade in and who should you open an account with? I’m not qualified to answer that, so I suggest you do your own research. Talk to other traders, join Forex and Futures web forums. Talk to Winners and Losers! Remember, Google is your friend, ask Google. Remember to ask/research, Ask/Research and ASK/RESEARCH! Most of all, remember that there is no such thing as easy money. Wealth requires work!
Back to iMarketsLive. When I search Google for “iMarketsLive” the front page of search results (when I ran the query) shows their website near to the top, but it also shows YouTube videos which strongly suggest that it is a scam (FOREX PRO, 2017; Vanderbuilt, 2017; ForexDini, 2018). There’s also a video on YouTube detailing a user’s 13 month story with iMarketsLive (Garcia, 2018).
To be fair, their Facebook page has 35,142 likes (iMarketsLive, n.d.-b) but there are also a few comments by disgruntled persons on their FaceBook page. Maybe that’s no cause for alarm, after all you can’t please everyone and at the end of the day, iMarketsLive cannot control the behaviours and actions of various Markets and people. However, when I continue scrolling through the results of the “iMarketsLive” query on Google, I noticed a warning from the Belgium Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA, 2018). The following statement from the FSMA in particular concerns me:
The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) warns the public against the activities of International Markets Live LTD, which offers tools and trainings relating to forex products and CFDs
The same warning from Belgium’s FSMA also says:
Moreover, the system proposed by International Markets Live exhibits features characteristic of a pyramid scheme. More information about this form of fraud is available on the website of the FSMA.
Maybe the Belgians had some bad luck with a few trades (or sales) and it’s just a case of sour grapes? Maybe. However, while still on the first page of Google results, I found an article by someone identified only as JP (n.d.) and who blogs about Multi-level marketing companies. The title of the article? “iMarketsLive reviews and complaints (is it a scam?)” Here’s an interesting snippet:
The NYC-based MLM is founded and led by Chris Terry, who beforehand hadn’t made much of a name for himself, but is certainly starting to now. He dabbled in network marketing, even working for Amway a few years in the 90s, but doesn’t seem to have had extensive experience in the industry before launching iMarketsLive.
Anyone remember Amway and their multi-level marketing schemes? You don’t? No problem. Read Nocera (2015) who mentions Amway in an article on Pyramid Schemes. Or the article by Lorenz (2018) who wrote about a group of women on Facebook fighting back against multi-level marketing companies like Amway and LulaRoe that almost ruined their lives. Or how about the the article by Stroud (2013) on an Amway CEO ending up behind bars in India.
Wait, what is Multi-level marketing? Multi-level marketing, also known as pyramid selling or pyramid schemes, involves individuals selling to the public via word of mouth or direct sales. These people earn commissions for their sales, as well as for the sales made by the people they recruit (United States FTC, 2016).
For example, if I make a one-off sale to you, I get a percentage of that sale. But that’s it. No re-occurring revenue for me. However if I can recruit you, and you in turn get sales/recruits, I get a percentage. It gets even better. If you recruit people below you, you will get a percentage from those that you recruit, and I will still get my percentage from you, as well as a percentage from those below you. That is MLM in a nutshell.
Based on what was described to me from an iMarketsLive event attendee in Trinidad, there are MLM elements in their program. If you’re interested specifically in how iMarketsLive works check out their website and read their compensation plan which describes fees and various levels (iMarketsLive, n.d.-c). Mind you, it seems you have a choice. If you don’t want to get into the MLM/selling side of it, you can pay fees and utilize their trading apps and tutorials to make money in the Forex/Futures markets.
iMarketsLive is based in the USA. The Better Business Bureau is an organization that is over 100 years old and focused on consumer protection and industry self-regulation (Better Business Bureau, n.d.-a). The BBB is generally a good place to start when checking up on US businesses. iMarketsLive is not registered with the BBB, but registration is not a requirement, so it can’t be held against iMarketsLive (or any US company not registered with the BBB).
However, the BBB also lists several positive reviews and complaints for iMarketsLive (Better Business Bureau, n.d.-b). Turning our Google search attention now to the CEO Chris Terry. We have several results painting him and iMarketsLive in a less than flattering light. Cao (n.d.) wrote a piece on Terry and iMarketsLive, here’s a snippet (remember to check the References at the bottom and click the link to the full article for yourself):
The iMarketsLive is not created for traders or aspiring traders, it is created for people who wants to build a network marketing business.
There are other stories and reports as well, but I will stop here. So, is iMarketsLive a scam waiting to happen in Barbados, Trinidad and possibly elsewhere in the Caribbean? Answering that question was not the objective of this post. The objective of this post was to help you arrive at your own definitive answer, or at the very least, to provide you with another opinion to help decide for/against the opinions that you already have.
In conclusion, I welcome the involvement of the local Financial Service Authorities in Barbados and Trinidad, as well as the respective Fair Trading Commissions, in investigating iMarketsLive, and other companies, so as to ensure that they have only the public’s best interests at heart. There are many alternatives to companies like iMarketsLive. Investment opportunities such as mutual funds or peer-to-peer lending platforms, et cetera, exist. Take the time to research and ask questions. For those of you who decide to invest time and money in iMarketsLive, I wish you the best of luck and I welcome you to email your results (good or bad) with them. I also welcome the iMarketsLive team reaching out to me to share their side of the story as well.
BabyPips.com (n.d.) Fundamental Factors That Affect Currency Values [Online]. Available from: https://www.babypips.com/learn/forex/long-term_market_movers, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
Better Business Bureau (n.d.-a) About BBB [Online]. Available from: https://www.bbb.org/en/us/about-bbb, (Accessed: 26 June 2016).
Better Business Bureau (n.d.-b) BBB Business Profile | International Markets Live, Inc. [Online]. Available from: https://www.bbb.org/new-york-city/business-reviews/online-trading-school/international-markets-live-inc-in-new-york-ny-161238, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
Cao, J. (n.d.) Is iMarketsLive a Scam? [Online]. Available from: https://barenakedscam.com/imarketslive, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
Charles Schwab & Co. (n.d.) What are Futures? [Online]. Available from: https://www.schwab.com/active-trader/insights/content/what-are-futures, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
Fisher-French (2017) The myths and truth about forex trading [Online]. Available from: https://www.fin24.com/Economy/the-myths-and-truth-about-forex-trading-20170723-2, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
ForexDini (2018) iMarketsLive Scam: Why I left IML [Online]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80KByhcMJR8, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
FOREX PRO (2017) IMARKETSLIVE SCAM EXPOSED! WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW [Online]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4RHIfCvy7M, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
FSMA (2018) The FSMA warns the public against the activities of International Markets Live LTD [Online]. Available from: https://www.fsma.be/en/warnings/fsma-warns-public-against-activities-international-markets-live-ltd-imarketslive, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
Garcia, C. (2018) IML iMarketsLive My Forex Story 13 Months In (The Good, The Bad, The UGLY) [Online]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcQucUc1Jx4, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
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iMarketsLive (n.d.-a) iMarketsLive About Page [Online]. Available from: https://www.imarketslive.com/, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
iMarketsLive (n.d.-b) iMarketsLive Facebook Page [Online]. Available from: https://www.facebook.com/iMarketsLive/, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
iMarketsLive (n.d.-c) iMarketsLive Compensation Plan Platinum Package [Online]. Available from: http://www.myimarketslive.co/Final_IML_Comp_5_(1).pdf, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
Investopedia (n.d.-a) What is the ‘Forex Market’ [Online]. Available from: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/forex/f/forex-market.asp, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
JP (n.d.) iMarkets Live reviews and complaints (is it a scam?) [Online]. Available from: https://mlmcompanies.org/imarketslive/, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
Lorenz, T. (2018) How Women Are Fighting the Marketers That Nearly Ruined Them [Online]. Available from: https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-women-are-fighting-the-marketers-that-nearly-ruined-them, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
Milton, A. (2018) What are Futures? [Online]. Available from: https://www.thebalance.com/what-are-futures-definition-and-examples-1031172, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
Murphy, C. (2017) Forex Tutorial: The Forex Market [Online]. Available from: https://www.investopedia.com/university/forexmarket/, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
Nocera, J. (2015) The Pyramid Scheme Problem [Online]. Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/15/opinion/joe-nocera-the-pyramid-scheme-problem.html, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
OANDA (2018) Open a Forex Account – OANDA [Online]. Available from: https://www.oanda.com/register/#/sign-up/demo, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
Stroud, M. (2013) The Indian express: how an Amway CEO landed behind bars halfway around the world [Online]. Available from: https://www.theverge.com/2013/6/28/4472608/the-indian-express-pyramid-scheme-investigations-amway-herbalife, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
United States FTC (2016) Multilevel Marketing [Online]. Available from: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0065-multilevel-marketing, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).
Vanderbuilt, E. (2017) iMarketsLive Scam Warning [Online]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_WOqiNmMNU, (Accessed: 26 June 2018).