Commodities Regulators Accuse Firms of Misrepresenting Public

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed enforcement actions in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York March 22 against nine firms with names identical to or extremely close to those of legitimate firms and exchanges. The actions accuse the firms of fraud while soliciting customers to purchase commodity futures and options contracts (CFTC v. American Futures and Options Exchange, S.D.N.Y., No. 07-CV-2377, 3/22/07; AFTC v. International Energy Exchange, S.D.N.Y., No. 07-CV-2378, 3/22/07; CFTC v. New York Petroleum Option Exchange, S.D.N.Y., No. 07-CV-2379, 3/22/07; CFTC v. New York Options Exchange, S.D.N.Y., No. 07-CV-2376, 3/22/07).

The CFTC also stated that the defendants used misrepresentations on their Web sites to defraud the public out of millions of dollars. Customers were solicited to trade futures and options on energy and currency. In reality, however, the defendants actually invented phony exchanges and brokers to deceive clients.

Those charged–some of which share the names of legitimate firms–are New York Options Exchange (NYOEX); Tahoe Futures; International Energy Exchange (INTENX); Vitol Capital Management; New York Petroleum Option Exchange (NYPOE); HPR Commodities; American Futures and Options Exchange; Metro Financials; and American Futures and Options Trading Commission (AFOTC).

The allegations include that Tahoe, Vitol, HPR, and Metro leased the use of fax numbers with U.S. area codes to fool the public into thinking all the companies were America-based. INTENX, NYOEX, and NYPOE were touted as futures exchanges, and AFOTC as the industry’s regulator. All are fictitious.