The Pursuit of Justice for Victims of Payvision/ING
Since 2019, the European Fund for Retail Investors (EFRI) has championed the cause of over 300 victims, seeking reimbursements from PAYVISION, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ING, one of Europe’s leading banks. PAYVISION, akin to WIRECARD, facilitated numerous cyber trading platforms, acting as their primary payment service provider. Through their association with global card systems like VISA and Mastercard, they inadvertently played a role in the scamming of countless innocent European consumers.
From 2013 to January 2019, PAYVISION amassed hundreds of millions in life savings, holding these funds in accounts with Deutsche Bank and ING. Subsequently, after retaining a significant service fee, they transferred the bulk of these funds to the scammers. More details here.
Our relentless efforts prompted the Dutch DNB, the regulatory authority overseeing PAYVISION, to initiate a probe into PAYVISION’s operations in 2020. This intervention, albeit belated, led to ING’s decision to shut down PAYVISION. Concurrently, criminal investigations were launched in the Netherlands, which are still active.
We’ve assisted victims in initiating legal actions against PAYVISION and its parent company, ING, across Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands. Media reports on the matter can be accessed here.
Unearthing Ruthlessness in the Financial Sector
Our investigation into PAYVISION revealed a blatant disregard for legal norms. EU Directives 2007/64/EG (PSD1) and 2015/2366 (PSD2) mandate financial institutions like PAYVISION to ensure lawful transaction handling. However, these directives were overtly overlooked. An efficient risk management system would have ensured compliance with the stringent rules set by card systems, thereby preventing any association with fraudulent entities.
Furthermore, PAYVISION disregarded guidelines set by the European Banking authorities, such as EBA/GL/2014 dated December 19, 2014. These guidelines necessitate financial service providers to adopt specific measures to counteract fraud.
Similarly, PAYVISION failed to adhere to the European money laundering directives and the accompanying EBA guidelines.
Was It Mere Negligence or Deliberate Oversight?
A pivotal question in the ongoing legal proceedings pertains to the nature of the business relationship between PAYVISION/BOOKER and the fraudsters. Was it sheer negligence or a deliberate oversight? Given the close association between BOOKER and some scammers like Uwe Lenhoff, it raises concerns about BOOKER´s awareness of the ongoing scams.
We believe we have substantial evidence suggesting PAYVISION’s awareness, or at the very least, their potential to be aware. Numerous warnings from regulatory authorities during their prolonged association with the scammers (spanning over six years) serve as a testament to this claim.
It’s worth noting that PAYVISION’s transactions were primarily card-not-present (CNP). Given their clientele from the binary options sector, they were legally bound to apply enhanced due diligence. As per EBA guidelines on risk factors JC 2017 37 04/01/2018, PAYVISION had a legal obligation to monitor any negative announcements from regulatory bodies and public media when onboarding new clients.
Some public warnings for the fraudulent websites serviced by PAYVISION (2014 – 2018)
- On 10 December 2014, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) of British Columbia warned about the binary options website www.optionbit.com, operated by NOVOX Capital Ltd (PAYVISION customer from 2013 up to 2016).
- On 6 December 2016, the Canadian British Columbia Securities Commission warned about Option Stars and OptionStarsGlobal, again operated by NOVOX Capital Ltd.
- On 28 December 2016, the Danish FSA warned against Lenhoff’s Altair Entertainment N.V., Capital Force Ltd. and Payific Ltd., and the fraud website www.option888.com(both Capital Force Ltd and Payific were PAYVISION customers for years).
- The MSFA (Malta Financial Services Authority) warned on 28 December 2016 for the unauthorized financial services offered on the www.options888.com website. Altair Entertainment N.V., Capital Force Ltd, and Payific Ltd were identified as the operating companies.
- On 28 December 2016, the Italian CONSOB (Italian regulator) also warned against Altair Entertainment N.V., Capital Force Ltd. and Payific Ltd. for offering unlicensed financial services on the www.option888.com website.
- On 25 January 2017, the consumer protection organization of Baden Württemberg issued a market guardian warning on the cyber trading platform “www.option888.com” and “www.24option.com” (Rodeler Ltd. Cyprus). (PAYVISION and WIRECARD handled both scamming platforms via various shell companies for several years).
- On 16 August 2017,  featured a report on warnings by the Vorarlberg Chamber of Labour about the fraud platform “option888”. The Vorarlberg Chamber of Labour (AK) warned against highly speculative cybertrading. A 36-year-old man and his father got involved with the online broker “Option888” and lost almost € 200.000,-
- On 25 November 2017 the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) issued an investor alert regarding Capital Force Ltd (Option888, Republic of Samoa, 13 Novasage Chambrs, level 2 CCCS Building, Beach Road, Apia, Samoa, www. Option888.com), pointing out that it was not authorized to provide banking services or investment services subject to licensing in Austria.
- On 3 January 2019  the FCA UK warned against Barak’s OptiumCommerce OU and its safemarkets system for offering unlicensed financial services;
- On 15 February 2018 the UK FCA issued an investor warning against Lenhoff’s xmarkets website for offering unlicensed financial services;
- On 9 April 2018 the FCA UK warned Barak’s AlmaMarket Ltd, UK, and the website www.safemarkets.com for offering unlicensed financial services;
- On 6 April 2018 the Austrian FMA issued a warning for xmarkets.com.
- On 23 March 2018, BAFIN Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsrecht orders the discontinuation and winding up of the financial commission business of Capital Force Ltd (“Option888”). By notice dated 21 March 2018, BaFin ordered Capital Force Ltd – commonly known as “Option888” – with its registered office in Apia, Samoa, to immediately cease and immediately wind down the financial commission business it was operating without a licence.
- On 30 March 2018 the Austrian Financial Market Authority issued an investor alert on the platform OptionStarsGlobal with the operating company New Markets S.A. (OptionStarsGlobal) Novasage Chambers, Level 2 CCCS BuildDefendant to 3), Beach Road, Apio Republic of Samoa and pointed out that the company is not authorised to provide banking transactions or investment services requiring a licence in Austria.
- On 30 March 2018, the business newspaper “Die Presse” published a corresponding article on this topic. Capital Force Ltd. advertises, among other things, Forex trading as well as trading in shares, indices and other financial instruments within the meaning of Section 1 (11) of the German Banking Act (“KWG”) at www.option888.com. In this way, it operates the financial commission business, which requires a licence pursuant to section 1 (1) sentence 2 no. 4 KWG, on a cross-border basis in the Federal Republic of Germany. The company does not have a license required for this pursuant to § 32 paragraph 1 KWG.
- On 9 April 2018, the UK FCA issued a public investor warning about the safemarkets scam scheme;
- On 14 May 2018, the UK FCA issued a public investor warning against the Barak system optionstarsglobal for offering unlicensed financial services to UK nationals and for having already received reports of fraud.
- On 14 May 2018, the UK FCA issued a public investor warning against Barak’s GPay Ltd and its CryptoPoint, xtraderfx and XFM programmes;
- On 25 May 2018 the UK FCA issued an investor alert against Barak’s Cool Markets Ltd and its goldenmarkets fraud scheme;
- On 7 June 2018 the UK FCA issued a public investor warning against Barak’s GPay Limited and its website xtraderfx;
- On 21 May 2018 the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued an investor alert in respect of Capital Force Ltd (“ZoomTrader”, Republic of Samoa, 13 Novasage Chambrs, level 2 CCCS Building, Beach Road, Apia, Samoa, www.zoomtrader.com), stating that it was not authorised to provide licensed banking or investment services in the UK and describing the platform as a SCAM (scam platform).
- On 21 May 2018, the FCA also warned against “Zoomtrader”. In the warning, the FCA listed Capital Force ltd. as the operator. This company had operated the ZoomTrader platform before Celestial Trading ltd.
- On 13 June 2018, the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) issued an investor warning regarding the platforms Tradovest and the company Celestial Trading Ltd (“Tradovest”, Seychelles, Gateway 8, Rue de la Perle, Providence, Mahe) and pointed out that it was not authorized to provide banking transactions or investment services requiring a license in Austria.
- On 13 June 2018, the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) issued an investor warning and a cease-and-desist order against Lenhoff’s Celestial Trading Ltd. and its Option888 website.
- On 25 June 2018, the FCA warned about NEW MARKETS S.A. Republic of Samoa (scam website OptionStarsGlobal).
- On 6 July 2018, the UK FCA issued a public investor warning about Lenhoff’s TradoVest scheme;
- On 11 July 2018, the German BaFin issued an investor warning against Lenhoffs Celestial Trading Ltd and the fraud website xmarkets.
-  https://vorarlberg.orf.at/v2/news/stories/2860665/
-  https://www.fma.gv.at/capital-force-ltd-option888/
-  https://www.fca.org.uk/news/warnings/safemarkets-trading-style-optimumcommerce-ou
-  https://www.fca.org.uk/news/warnings/xmarkets-com
-  https://www.fca.org.uk/news/warnings/almamarkets-limited-t-safemarkets
-  https://www.fma.gv.at/sg-innovation-ltd-xmarkets-com/
-  https://www.bafin.de/SharedDocs/Veroeffentlichungen/DE/Verbrauchermitteilung/unerlaubte/2018/meldung_180323_capital_force_ltd.html
-  https://www.fma.gv.at/new-markets-s-a-optionstarsglobal/
-  https://www.fca.org.uk/news/warnings/golden-markets
-  https://www.fca.org.uk/news/warnings/xtraderfx
-  https://www.fca.org.uk/news/warnings/capital-force-ltd
Note: this list of warnings for websites PAYVISION serviced for many years is incomplete; there are more, and there have also been massive complaints about being scammed by those websites mentioned online – a quick search would have them revealed to the compliance department (?) of PAYVISION.
PAYVISION´s statement on this:
When we brought up this list in the civil proceedings against PAYVISION here in Austria, we were told by PAYVISION that the victims are to be blamed. They are the addressees of these warnings, for sure, not PAYVISION. As already mentioned, PAYVISION is a 100% subsidiary of one of the biggest European banks, the Dutch ING. Up to today, no one feels ashamed and has taken responsibility.