Belgian Regulator Warns Against 131 Crypto Websites Author: Sherlock Gomes Last Updated: 30 October 2019 The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) of Belgium recently flagged 131 cryptocurrency websites that were working in the country without adequate regulatory licenses. The regulator is cracking down on unregulated entities offering online crypto schemes. Noncompliance a major issue Several crypto companies have emerged in Belgium in recent years that are trying to offering cryptocurrency-based investments to the users. They conduct their business online without receiving adequate licensing or registration or complying with the financial laws of the state. Most European regulators have been skeptical of these entities and view the entire cryptocurrency industry as a threat to their financial stability. According to the FSMA, most of the fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes offer massive returns to the customers and ask them to deposit their funds. They promise little to zero financial risks in these transactions to lure more customers but eventually vanish or misappropriate the funds they obtain. The regulator received a number of complaints from investors who poured funds into these schemes but ended up losing them. Many of these people didn’t recover the funds or never heard from the company again. Can the regulator protect investors? While the FSMA can warn investors against these fraudulent companies and flag them, it cannot provide the protections laid down in the securities law. This is because the law caters to traditional securities and cannot apply to any company that is not registered with the platform. The regulator has also asked users to be careful and trade only on registered platforms. The regulator has now identified 131 websites that are operating without proper authorization in the country. The most recently identified websites are- crypto-sfs.com, coinsmex.com, etc-markets.co, bitcoinmarketscap.com, bitcointraderspro.com, tdscapitalgroup.com, ltc-markets.com, stsroyal.com and fisherih.com. The most high profile of these fraudulent websites identified by the FSMA was operated by a firm called Abesix Belgique. The company fraudulently represented that it is co-founded by Louis Vuitton owner Bernard Arnault, who is also the third richest person in the world. A news story about Abesix was published in a local business newspaper called De Tijd claiming its links to Arnault. The news story also mentioned that a popular young Brussels-based entrepreneur Emmanuel Wouters was also associated with the project. All claims were false. However, the story helped in bringing broader recognition of cryptocurrency-related scams in the country. The European region is facing a rising number of such fraudulent schemes making investors lose millions.