The Times of Israel today reported the shutdown of the Forex funds recovery venture Wealth Recovery International (WRI). Three months after its co-founder and owner Austin Smith pleaded guilty to binary options fraud in the U.S., WRI’s Israel office has been shut down and all employees dismissed, The Times of Israel learned.
In March 2019, WRI’s owner Austin Smith (aka John Ried or Avi Smith) pleaded guilty in the United States to binary options fraud associated with the brands BigOption and BinaryBook. Moreover, he admitted malicious activities associated with his fund recovery business. Smith was released to his parents’ custody in the U.S. on $300,000 bail and will be sentenced on September 3, 2019.
Austin didn’t tell WRI customers it was actually him who stole their money in the first place. According to the plea agreement, Smith obtained $125,000 in fees and commissions for the WRI services from at least one client whom he had directly defrauded when he was an employee at BinaryBook (plea agreement available for download here).
Austin Smith changed sides sometime in 2017 and founded WRI. He allegedly wanted to help the betrayed binary options investors get their money back. According to the U.S. prosecutors, Austin has again primarily enriched himself and his WRI and again lied to clients.
While Austin’s partner Tammi Hamm told Simona Weinglass of The Times of Israel, that WRI would have recovered $8.5m for their clients and that they were satisfied former WRI employees now uncovered that only a minority of clients received their funds back.
According to a former employee who shared information with FinTelegram, Tammi Hamm and WRI stopped paying their remaining employees already weeks ago.
The charges against Austin Smith are related to the Yukom case involving Lee Elbaz and four other defendants as well as to Austin’s activities with WRI. The Israeli Lee Elbaz and Austin Smith and other co-conspirators are said to have cheated US investors by many millions with