May 7, 2020 / 3:14 PM / 18 days ago

Russia sees more illegal forex services during coronavirus crisis

MOSCOW, May 7 (Reuters) - Illegal currency brokerages have stepped up activity in Russia during coronavirus lockdowns trying to exploit market uncertainty to swindle people, the central bank warned on Thursday.

Stuck at home and seeking ways to earn money online, more Russians have been turning to foreign exchange trading, with local brokerages reporting a sharp rise in trading volumes.

But the central bank, which acts as a watchdog for the banking sector and financial markets, said “financial fraudsters”, including foreign-registered companies offering illegal services, were taking advantage of that to con people.

“Almost all consumers entrusting their funds to such forex dealers ultimately lose their money,” it said in a report, without saying how many such outfits it had identified.

Russia has the fifth-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, 177,160, and has recorded 1,625 deaths.

In the first quarter of 2020, the central bank found 369 companies illegally offering financial market services, including 37 pyramid schemes and 53 illegal forex dealers.

It said that was an increase, without giving details. (Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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