Beware! Starlingfe is an offshore broker! Your investment may be at risk.
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Starlingfe presents itself as a UK-based broker that offers trading in forex, stocks, commodities, indices and cryptocurrencies. They advertise 3 account types – Micro, Silver and Gold – that differ in the minimum deposit required ($250, $1,000 and $5,000 respectively), as well as in the trading conditions, such as spreads and leverage.
There is a simple registration form that asks only for your names, phone number and email address. Upon completing these personal details, we were taken straight to the trading area, while our account credentials were sent by email. Such registration process is completely unacceptable for a financial institution that is supposed to take care of your money – legitimate websites will send an activation link where you set up your own password.
The broker claims you can open a Demo account but once in the trading area there is no such option. The trading area looks quite deficient in terms of design and functionality, actually.
Starlingfe regulation & safety of funds
The broker lists a London address and phone numbers in the UK and Switzerland. We could not find any corroborating data that there is such entity registered in the United Kingdon, or anywhere else for that matter. What we came across is a warning from the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) that Starlingfe LTD is not “permitted to trade on a commercial basis on its own account or on behalf of others.”
This leads us to believe that Starlingfe is an anonymous entity that is not regulated by any financial licensing authority and any funds invested with them will be at great risk. Top watchdog agencies, such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK and the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) regulating forex trading in the EU, impose very strict rules to the companies they license. Brokers have to maintain the Minimum Capital Requirements of €730 000 to guarantee their good financial standing. With regards to traders’ safety of funds there is a Client Account Segregation requirement – clients’ money must be kept separate from the broker’s operating funds and a Negative Balance Protection, which ensures that one may not lose more than the initially invested funds. Licensed brokers are also obliged to participate in 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) apply to forex trading too.
In the absence of such licensing , however, we need to warn our readers that Starlingfe is not regulated and your money are not safe with them!
Starlingfe Trading Software
The website claims to offer “the industry’s leading forex trading platforms directly on your PC, MAC, mobile or tablet”. There are no download links to be found anywhere, however, not on the website nor in the trading area. There is only the web-based platform we see in the screenshot above, which is very far from the “state-of-the-art technology” as it is presented.
Respectable forex brokers provide access to established trading software for their traders, such as the MetaTrader 4 (MT4) or MetaTrader 5 (MT5) platforms. 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. Its successor, MT5, has some advantages – it allows traders to execute trades on different financial markets through a single account and there is a hedging option. Both platforms are available as desktop and mobile (iOS and Android) application as well.
Starlingfe Trading Conditions
The broker boasts very competitive spreads (from 0 pips) provided you are willing to invest the minimum deposit amount of $5,000 for a Gold account. With the Micro account, however, you will get spreads from 3 pips which is very large – it will not make any return on the trader’s investment, but will guarantee hefty profits on the broker’s part. What we actually see in the Webtrader is unreal – a spread of 17 pips for the EURUSD currency pair is something that no legitimate broker will offer and should make any investor turn away.
The leverage Starlingfe offers is up to 1:500. Such leverage is very high and can be quite risky – although there is the potential of making big profits, one can also lose quite a lot, sometimes even more than initially invested. That is why licensing authorities impose a leverage cap for non-professional traders – in the US it is 1:50, while in the UK and the EU it is even lower – 1:30.
Starlingfe Deposit/Withdrawal Methods And Fees
The broker’s website advertises VISA and MasterCard, as well as several Russian payment service providers – Qiwi Wallet, WebMoney and Yandex. In the trading area we see only two deposit options – credit/debit card via PaynetEasy, again a Russian payment platform, and Bitcoin. Generally accepted methods, such as bank transfer, PayPal or other preferred by traders e-wallets, eg. Skrill and Neteller are not available.
Cryptocurrency is a favoured method of scam brokerages, as it is completely anonymous and untraceable. With standard payment methods one can file for a chargeback with their financial institution, if you use Bitcoin you do not know who you are sending the money to and there is no guarantee you can get it back in case of fraud.
The minimum deposit Starlingfe requires is $250, but as they make clear on their website, in order to get better trading conditions, you need to deposit at least $1,000. The Terms and Conditions are quite vague – they do not say much about fees or processing time for any payment transactions. There is a statement about the investor being entitled to “the refund of previous month’s fees” so we can only guess what this fees are.
With regards to withdrawals we do not find much information also. The Withdrawal Policy consists of one paragraph related to bonuses, and as we know regulations in the EU prohibit such promotions as they are a common practice of con-artists trying to lure potential investors.
Considering everything we have described above, we believe Starlingfe is an unlicensed and unregulated broker and do not advise the investing with them!
How does the scam work?
Users often fall prey of very simple but quite efficient scams. The first snare is usually an internet ad promising big profits over a short period of time, and all you need to do is provide your personal information, usually email address and phone number. If you do that, you will start getting calls from scam brokers who will continue with the pitches of quick and easy profits until you decide to make a first deposit of $200 to $300. On these funds the scammers get a fat commission and transfer you to senior “brokers”.
These expert con-artists are smooth talkers who start talking you into putting even more money in, because “now is the perfect moment” or “the more money you invest, the higher your profits will be”. Usually about this time most traders will start to feel the scam and will want to withdrawal their money and get out fast.
Unfortunately, the scammers will not give in easily. First, they will try to persuade you not to withdraw right now because you will miss on “big profits”, and if that does not work, they will find numerous reasons to deny or delay your request by asking you for additional documents or claiming that there are some other causes for not executing the withdrawal. The ultimate objective in such procrastination is to make the traders miss the crucial period in which a chargeback request can be filed, and thus lose the chance of getting their money back.
What to do if scammed?
If you used a credit card to make a deposit with the scammers you should immediately file for a chargeback. Both VISA and MasterCard have increased the time in which you can file to 540 days, in part specifically to fight such online scams.
If you used bitcoin or some other untraceable source, however, chances of recovering your funds are slim. You might get approached by so-called “recovery agents”, but don’t fall for their tricks. They will ask for payment up-front to recover your money, but this is just another scam and you will not get anything back.
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