Beware! Terra Finance is an offshore broker! Your investment may be at risk.
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Terra Finance is an offshore broker that advertises trading in forex, indices, stocks and commodities. They offer different account types depending on the minimum deposit amount required – from $250 to $100,000. Every one of them except the lowest type claims to have “account protection” and the largest ones are also “attracting” potential investors with a sizable bonus – between 20% and 60%.
The registration form asked only for first and last names, email address, phone number and country. After successfully signing up, there was no confirmation of any kind but we were directed straight to the trading area. Although we received an email with an activation link in our mailbox, there was no need to click the link at all.
The trading area did not strike us much – it looked quite simple with few features besides the standard. It is worth noting, however, that a crucial one, Deposit, was not working – we will comment more on this later.
Terra Finance regulation & safety of funds
There is not much information about the company that stands behind this website. We could not find out where it is registered, or if it is licensed to operate as a financial institution by any regulation authority. In the Contacts page we see an address in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a well-known offshore zone, notorious for scam brokerages, which does not regulated Forex trading. There are also phone numbers with Kazakhstan, Italy, Spain and Austria area codes.
What we did find, however, after a quick search, is that the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF), the public institution that supervises the professionals and products of the Luxembourg financial sector has issued a warning against Terra Finance back in May.
There is also another one from 2019 issued by Spain’s Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (National Securities Market Commission) that even lists their website address. This is enough evidence to ascertain our suspicions that this is an anonymous entity trying to swindle credulous investors.
Terra Finance have dedicated a webpage to the clients’ “security of funds” but that is about it. It consists of two paragraphs, which similar to the “account protection” we noted above, do not bring forward any evidence. To gain investors’ trust regulated brokers would provide proof of their licensing by a respected watchdog organization, such as UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC), and would cite some of the policies these agencies have regarding forex brokers. One of them, Client Account Segregation ensures that clients’ funds are kept separate from the broker’s operating funds and the latter does not have access to them. Another, Negative Balance Protection stipulates that traders may not lose more than the funds they initially invested. The brokerages also have to be part of Compensation Schemes providing additional guarantee to clients’ funds up to a certain amount (85,000 GBP in the UK and 20,000 EUR in the EU).
In the absence of such licensing, however, we warn our readers that investing money with Terra Finance is not safe!
Terra Finance Trading Software
The broker advertises the MetaTrader 4 (MT4) trading platform on their website. In the trading area, there are download links for Desktop and Mobile (iOS and Android) applications. MT4 is considered the world’s number one platform, preferred by over 80% of users. It offers an intuitive and user-friendly interface, advanced charting and analysis tools, as well as copy and auto-trade options. It can be customized to create different trading strategies using its proprietary MQL4 programming language.
The other platform, Webtrader, is more or less anonymous and looks immature in comparison. Much like the trading area we saw above, it does not have many features and the design is of poor quality.
Terra Finance Trading Conditions
The broker claims to offer spreads starting from 1.1 pips on their home page. This is not what we see on the trading platforms however. The demo MT4 account indicated 2 pips for EURUSD, while in the Webtrader it is even larger – 3 pips. With regulated brokers this most traded currency pair rarely comes with spreads larger than 1 to 1.5 pips, as this would only guarantee hefty profits for the broker while making no returns for the traders.
We also see that Terra Finance offers leverage of 1:100. In Europe and the US leverage for retail brokers is capped at 1:30 and 1:50, respectively, by the regulation authorities. High leverage provides huge profit potential, but it also presents great risks to the traders because any losses incurred will be multiplied.
Terra Finance Deposit/Withdrawal Methods And Fees
There are a number of payment provider logos in the footer of the broker’s website, including major credit cards, such as VISA and MasterCard. This is a common trick used by scam brokers to make you believe you can use such methods to deposit with them. As it usually turns out, however, there are no such options when you get to the cashier. With Terra Finance deposit was not working at all – it returned a meaningless message since the required data was provided in the request.
What con artists usually do is offer only cryptocurrency options for deposit, since these are completely untraceable and anonymous, whereas with standard payment methods one can file for a chargeback with their financial institution. Most respected brokers also have PayPal and other preferred by traders e-wallets, eg. Skrill and Neteller.
Although the Terms and Conditions mention a fee schedule that should be available on the broker’s website we could not find it. Thus, we have no idea what they charge as “withdrawals processing and handling fees.” What we see in big letters, however, is that they take “20% commission in advance”.
The broker also has a clause pertaining to the bonuses they offer – the latter may be only be withdrawn subject to the execution of a minimum trading volume of 30 times the deposit amount plus the bonus issued. These clauses confirm what we suspected from the beginning – Terra Finance is an unlicensed and unregulated broker and we do not advise the investing with them.
How does the scam work?
The usual scam operates on a multi-level, though very basic model. The users will be tempted to click on an Internet ad promising quick and easy profits. If they do, it will take them to a website that will ask for their personal details, including email address and phone number. Once they submit this information, an avalanche of emails and phone calls will be unleashed. Scammers will promise the world to these potential traders in order to induce them to make an initial deposit between $200 and $300.
These “brokers” will get a fat commission from the deposited sums and will transfer the unsuspecting users to “senior” scammers. The latter are smooth talkers who will try to persuade users to invest more funds, using phrases like “now is the right time” and “the moment is perfect for making hefty profits”. Of course, these are empty words, and traders will soon have doubts whether they have not been played.
When they try to withdraw their money, these doubts will be confirmed: the con-artists will do anything to deny or at least delay their withdrawals. From trying to convince the traders that they are making a big mistake to withdraw funds now because they will lose big profits, to asking for additional documents or citing clauses in the accepted agreements, to transferring you to another department, there is a single objective to delay the users from filing for a chargeback with their financial institution and lose any chances of recovering their money.
What to do when scammed?
Anyone can fall prey to such a scam. In the unfortunate event this happens to you, there are a few things you can do. If you deposited using a credit card you should immediately file for a chargeback. In an effort to combat online fraud VISA and MasterCard have extended the period in which one can file a chargeback to a year and a half, so there is a big chance that you may be able to recover your funds. If however, you used a bank wire or bitcoin to deposit, chances to get your money back are almost none.
We should also warn against “recovery agencies” who prey on victimized traders by claiming they can recover their funds. These scammers will ask you to pay a fee for this service, but will only take your money and do nothing.
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