Unable to face the future, Fred Turbide went to his garage, put a gun to his chest and pulled the trigger. He’d just written a final message to the criminals who’d ruined him.

“I’ve lost my house, my retirement money and my business, damn you,” it read.

The 61-year-old father of four was found by his family.

He felt “a combination of betrayal, despair and shame”, said his son Tomas.

Fred had lost £183,000 to binary trading, a scourge that is destroying lives among unwary investors.

He lived in Alberta, Canada, and was fleeced by websites mainly operating out of Israel, illustrating the global nature of the problem.

I’ve been contacted by binary trading victims in the UK, although thankfully none have been driven to such extremes as Fred.

One, who I’ll just call David, told me that he’s put £20,000 into a site called BinaryOptions.com – “today’s leading binary options trading platform”.

Successful punts pushed his balance to £59,000 – or so he was told.

But when he tried to withdraw £10,000 he was told that he hadn’t completed sufficient trades and needed to put in more money.

According to its website, BinaryOption.com is owned by Urbanix Ltd, a Bulgarian company, but my email to it was opened in Panama.

I’ve not had a reply.

Read: Ban these binary bets before more people are bitten.

Such is the alarm felt by fraud watchdogs that an unprecedented meeting of police and regulatory bodies from around the world was held earlier this month to discuss the issue.

Europol, the European Union law enforcement agency, held the conference at its HQ in The Hague, Holland.

The UK was represented by the City of London police, which last autumn labelled binary options “the latest and fastest-growing iteration of investment fraud”.

Also present were investigators from the USA and Canada, as well as 20 EU countries.

“The aim was to raise awareness about this phenomenon in Europe, to exchange experiences and best practices, and most importantly to try to establish an overview of the phenomenon in Europe,” said a spokesman.

“It was the first meeting we organised about this topic and I’m sure more will follow.”

Many binary options scams have operated out of Israel, with reports in the Times of Israel blaming the authorities there for allowing the crooks to flourish.

The online newspaper, which highlighted the tragedy of Fred Turbide, has estimated that there are around 100 binary trading operations in the country, calling them The Wolves of Tel Aviv.

In April last year, the Israel Securities Authority banned them from doing business in Israel, however they are still free to target customers abroad.

In the UK, Action Fraud has warned that binary crooks set up fake social media profiles, portraying themselves as successful traders by posing in exotic locations with flash cars and expensive watches.

It has also found that, in contrast to Fred Turbide, most victims are young.

“From the reports made to Action Fraud 33% of victims are aged less than 30 years old,” it said, “and 9% are under the age of 20, which is extremely unusual in investment fraud.”

How the scam works.

Binary options websites give the impression that they’re used by sophisticated City experts.

In reality, they offer two simple bets, usually that the price of something such as a commodity, currency or shares will rise or fall over a set period, which can sometimes be just minutes.

The scam is just a simple – the crooks behind binary trading websites don’t pay out winnings and disappear with the money put in by victims.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate binary trading, seeing it as gambling rather than investing.

It says: “We regularly hear about such firms suddenly closing consumers’ trading accounts, refusing to pay back their funds and ceasing any further contact.”

Source: Mirror UK