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What is in a name? Has anyone heard of Joe Louis?

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For the average man on the street, the name “Joe Louis” immediately conjures up thoughts of a great prizefighter that established his reputation in the ring with nothing more than his guile and fists. In the trading world, however, Joe Lewis is quite another story. Known for accumulating millions in the “trading” ring, this other Joe Lewis definitely has “name cache” that, in the marketing world, can mean global brand power. When a new forex broker by the name of “Joe Louis Trading” sprang up recently in Turkey, it is not that difficult to surmise that many in the trading community were impressed, attracted, and then confused, a sure sign of a scam in the making.

“Confused” may be too gentle a word to use at this point. A cursory review of forex blog sites reveals a host of irate traders that feel deceived and that are out for blood. The word “scam” is bandied about more often than not, and this band seems bent on driving this broker out of business and out of town on the next train. The furor has reached such a heated level that the Turkish firm has changed its name to “JL Trading”, posted a disclaimer on its home page refuting any association with the other Joe Lewis, and has restricted access to its services to “Members Only”, a turn off for anyone arriving there.

Who is the Joe Lewis of trading fame?

 

According to a popular Internet information website, “Joe Lewis (born 5 February 1937) is a British businessman who currently lives in New Providence, Bahamas. Lewis’ total wealth is estimated at $4.2 billion, and he is listed as the 308th richest person on Forbes’ List of billionaires (2013). Forbes reports that Lewis is the ninth wealthiest person in the UK. After selling the family business in the late 1970s, Lewis moved into currency trading in the 1980s and 1990s, resulting in his move to the Bahamas where he is now a tax exile. In September 1992, Lewis teamed up with George Soros to bet on the pound crashing out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. The event, which was dubbed Black Wednesday, made Lewis very wealthy, and some say he made more than Soros. Lewis is still an active FX trader.”

This “Joe” actually spells his name differently, but, as one of the richest mean in the world, it is easy to see that an association with him in any fashion might cause a stampede of potential customers to the door of a new broker. The Bahamas, however, is a far cry from Istanbul, and, as the JL Trading website now professes, “”Neither JL Trading nor any of its investments are associated or affiliated with the Bahamas-based investor Joe Lewis or the Tavistock Group.”

What do we know about JL Trading or any of its prior names?

 

As for the confusing naming conventions, the old web address, “joelewis-trading.com”, has an additional disclaimer of note: “The founder of this business is Joseph Lewis, who is not connected in any way with the other person of the same name.” The site then refers you to the JL Trading web address. No information is available on either website, and potential customers are left to ponder whether this firm is for real or just another scam to be avoided.

When protecting yourself from a potentially fraudulent broker, you are always your first and last line of defense. Careful due diligence and skepticism are your best weapons, especially if you are contemplating a broker that operates in a foreign jurisdiction where enforcing your legal rights are near to impossible. The fact that JL Trading will not allow access to their site unless you provide personal information is a requirement that is extremely rare in this industry and one that should raise suspicions at the outset. The only path to follow at this point is to check the public record for comments.

 

What does the public record say about JL Trading?

 

The Internet has been of great value to the trading community, but it has also distorted our ability to establish trust with a potential business partner, the basis for any well functioning relationship, no matter what the venue. Anonymity has also engendered a culture of heaping abuse when wronged, without any rules guiding the discourse in the way of actual evidence. In other words, the “public record” is suspect from the get go. When a firm is attacked, the negative comments can seem outrageous, while the positive comments may seem proffered by an employee of the accused. The reader must become judge and jury in this highly unregulated courtroom drama.

 

In the case of JL Trading, here are a few of the pertinent comments on the web:

  • https://www.scamadviser.com/check-website/joelewis-trading.com#  This site says to proceed with caution since, “This site has a high risk country associated with it.” The site appears to be operated out of Turkey with affiliations in the UK.
  • In this case, a number of patrons were enticed to accept an international check or money order as an incentive to become a member. A high percentage of cross-border frauds begin with this type of tactic. Why would a legitimate firm attempt this ruse?
  • https://www.facebook.com/ForexFraud/posts/819423228107936  A poster on Facebook made this comment, “Based in Turkey and trades through FXCM NY I believe. Just closed down the web site and claims to be broker issues with FXCM liquidity, we think. JLT has/had a$200M portfolio All monies from all the clients just evaporated into thin air.” This post appeared this last August, 2014.
  • https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/final-notices/lewis-partnership.pdf  In this case, the FCA in the UK has ruled against a “Michael Joseph James Lewis” in 2011 for fraudulent business practices, citing, “The FSA also concluded that Mr Lewis is not a fit and proper person to perform any function in relation to any regulated activity carried on by any authorised person, exempt person or exempt professional firm, and therefore the FSA imposes a prohibition order upon him.” Is this person the same “Joseph Lewis” that moved to Turkey and started JLTrading.com?
  • https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/11305953/Trader-goes-missing-after-130m-of-clients-cash-disappears.html This article is specifically about JL Trading and Joe Lewis According to this article Joe Lewis is being investigated by the police for possibly absconding with over £130 million of investors money.

Concluding Comments

Is “JLTrading.com” a scam to be avoided? Typical fraudsters always attempt to dupe their marks with name associations at the outset to gain trust. If they are exposed, then they will usually change their names and locations in order to cloak their activities behind a new shield of respectability. Is that the case with JLTrading.com? Why would a prudent investor take the chance? If you have any hard evidence to the contrary, then you would be still advised to proceed with caution. Where there is smoke, there might be a fire raging behind the scenes.