Market Traders is a company shrouded in controversy.
Ex-employees allege fraud. Current and past students have filed a massive amount of complaints on various online forums.
A “money back” refund policy that appears to be as worthless as wet toilet paper. A shit show of marketing chicanery, misrepresentations, and performance huff-puffery.
Owners of company narrowly escaped extended prison sentences for money laundering, securities fraud, and wire fraud for their involvement in a $220 million dollar Ponzi scheme. Owners of company operated a Forex brokerage that was shuttered by the NFA and fined $250k. US criminal investigators described this Forex company as a massive money laundering operation. Absolutely avoid.
Thanks for reading today’s review of Market Traders Institute
What is Market Traders Institute? The company is a day trading educational company that specializes in the Forex markets. The company was founded in 1994 by Jared Martinez. The business is located at 3900 Millenia Avenue, Orlando Florida.
Jared Martinez describes himself as the “Big Chief” of Forex trading. He drives a Rolls Royce with the license plate “Forex Chief”. Various online publications tell the quaint story of how Jared grew up dirt poor, with no shoes, on an Indian reservation in Montana. At some point in history, Jared discovered day trading and has been “taking scalps” ever since.
At some point in time, Jared’s children (there a quite a few) also discovered the awesome power of day trading, joined the company, and they have also become proficient scalp-takers. In particular, I enjoy the personal testimony of Jacob Martinez. He describes himself as a former personal trainer that could not afford to fix his car or feed his wife. After struggling for 6 months to save up an extra $500, he invested this money into the Forex markets and turned his $500 into $39,000 in only 6 months by day trading. Since turning his $500 into $39k, in only 6 months, he decided to spread his financial love onto a desperate humanity.
All kidding aside, it is pretty amazing what this family of Forex gypsies has been able to accomplish. To have come from some such a poverty stricken region of the United States, and end up driving a Rolls Royce around Florida is quite an accomplishment. But before we crown Jared and his kids the second coming of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, or War Eagle, we should probably take a closer look at exactly what these guys are selling. Which of course, is a “day trading education” at $7,995 per person.
Market Traders Institute: A closer look
First things first. Over the years, the Market Traders Institute has occupied a massive amount of online web addresses. The following are only the active websites, but TradingSchools.Org was also able to identify dozens of other websites that are now defunct. Let’s take a look at just the currently active websites:
In addition, there are various social media profiles related to the company:
This is only a partial list. There are quite literally dozens of related social media profiles and related brands to the company. It’s is a big company. With lots of employees.
Market Traders Institute has a massive advertising budget. A review of market analytics software SEM Rush revealed that Market Traders Institute is currently spending an estimated $8,000 to $22,000 per month in Google pay per click advertising.
There are currently 300 – 400 advertisements concurrently running on just Google. These ads are targeting over 6,000 keywords. There are hundreds of landing pages attached to these ads. The ads trigger at just about any term related to Forex, day trading, work from home, futures trading. Just about anything related to “Home Based Business Opportunity” will trigger an ad for Market Traders Institute. The target market is anyone looking to make money from home.
In speaking with the marketing director at SEM Rush analytics, he estimated that there is likely a full-time team of 3 individuals that manage an account of this size and scale. It is quite simply a massive advertising effort.
To give you some perspective on the size and scale of the operation, the following YouTube video (which is expertly produced) shows the Forex Big Chief ‘Jared’ and his Forex little squaw ‘Joshua’ giving the audience a walk through of the sales facility.
As you can see from the above video, the marketing operation is quite extensive, elaborate and expertly managed.
As you can imagine, TradingSchools.org has received a massive amount of correspondence from various parties related to this business. The vast majority are unfortunately complaints from individuals that purchased various sales packages that are presented in an ultra-slick format. The marketing appears to be a sort of primrose path, where a person is drawn towards an online advertisement and then lands on one of the various landing pages.
The landing pages usually contain an amazing story of making massive amounts of easy money in the Forex markets. All a person needs to do is use the magic trading software and simply “push the button” and profits will begin to appear. The following are a couple of the video’s that speak of easy profits for everyone involved.
Simply amazing. Just wait for three green bars and start buying Forex as fast as possible. Or, wait for three red bars and start selling Forex as quickly as you can hit the mouse button. Like an ATM machine, these magical trading indicators are like a broken ATM machine that keeps flinging money in every direction.
Or how about the following video, where we can supposedly watch and copy Jacob’s trades for a massive, volcanic eruption of Pips and profits. Its so easy! I especially enjoy the “roll bar” on the bottom of the video, where random people are supposedly reporting massive profits.
If you spent a moment watching these videos. And you have been around the block a few times, you are probably laughing at the ridiculous absurdity. And this is just a small sampling of the carnival-like atmosphere in which they are promoting “easy profits through Forex”.
How can people be so naive? Its the boiler room.
The big question that readers are probably thinking to themselves, “How could anyone fall for this?” The answer was provided by an individual that contacted TradingSchools.Org and described themselves as an ex-employee of the sales department.
In our conversation, they described the sales operation as a high-pressure boiler room. Where the sales people were under constant stress and pressure to “do whatever it takes to get the credit card.” To sell the program as a financial solution for the masses of mostly middle-income persons with little to no knowledge of financial instruments. It’s a commission based incentive program that played hard on the conscious of plenty of the sales people.
The sad truth was that every customer was treated like a plump financial target. The company understands that nearly everyone is going to fail at trading. And as they continually fail, the company is continually peddling yet another solution for “only a few hundred more dollars.” The customer just needed a little more education, a newly developed indicator, a special coaching session, an exclusive mentor, everything has a price tag. There is no end to the upsell. There is just broken dreams and maxed out credit cards.
But what about the TRACK RECORD?
As the ex-salesperson explained, a common question that prospective purchasers of the program will ask,”Is there a track record of trades? Can you show me something that proves Forex Big Chief and Forex Little Chief are trading successfully?” Absolutely! In fact, the track record of trades is a central component of the sales process. Let’s have a look at one of the supposed track records that Markets Traders is currently using as “proof” of successful trading.
Pretty nice looking, right? From June 2011 – February 2013, a wonderful profit of $39,282.
However, in speaking with the ex-salesperson, he explained that this track record of trades is simply “one of many track records.” In other words, the company keeps a laundry list of supposed real trading accounts, in which various individuals within the company are trading various trading accounts. The goal is to create the visual appearance that only one track record exists, and this is used as “proof”. The following is another screenshot that was also used as “proof” until the account took a dump and they stopped using it.
If you think about this logically, this is a company with dozens of employees. Has a large monthly overhead and a massive advertising budget. This is a multi-million dollar operation. They can afford to have 50 losing accounts and only use the 1 account with the winning track record. Pretty clever. And it makes sense.
I want to also include the disclaimer that the ex-employee could be disgruntled, and all of this could be a massive lie. In order to convince TradingSchools.Org to write a negative review. However, I found the narrative to be credible.
What about the Money Back Guarantee?
Market Traders Institute offers a money back guarantee. I brought this up with the ex-employee. He next explained that triggering that money back guarantee was nearly impossible. A person had to navigate through an alligator infested swamp of “retention agents.” Essentially, the “retention” department would do anything or say anything to convince the individual who wanted their money back to keep trying. They would offer discounts, private mentoring sessions, partial discounts, shame, guilt…whatever it took to keep the client alive for 6 months. At the end of the 6 months, the client is pooped out of the rear of the company. Ignored and forgotten.
The salesman also described the problems that the company had with swarms of online complaints that were filed at the Forex Peace Army. If you follow the link below, you will notice a clear pattern of one or two online complaints, that are followed by five or six positive reviews. The online complaints were devastating to read.
MTI is an utter scam, ruthless and thin skinned.
Stay far away. They charge expensive with poor quality. Hard to get a refund.
These guys are like the PONZI frauds. They sell hyped up hope of getting rich and fulfilling dreams… no more, no less. Stay away from these bottom feeders.
The sales department called me day and night, pestering me months on end to buy more trading indicators until I ran out of money and then they stopped calling.
I lost my life savings. $61,000 down the drain. Please stay far away. They are selling a fake dream.
Its a gimmick.
MTI DID NOT HONOR ITS MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE AFTER I CANCELLED THEIR PROGRAM.
As you can read, these are pretty nasty quotes. And there are many, many more. And so to counter this negative feedback, the company would employ a virtual army of professional “shills” to counter the negative reviews with at least 5 or 6 positive reviews for each negative review. Notice how striking the feedback on both sides of the review ledger.
The most damning evidence
Probably the most damning piece of evidence are not the allegations of using multiple account statements. Nor are the multitudes of negative reviews posted on the company at Forex Peace Army, Scam Group, and Complaints Board. By far, the most damning piece of evidence is an article published by Bloomberg.com on May 10, 2015. The title of the article is “The Con Man and His Mentor“. Link below. Before you dive into the article, make sure you have a bit of time to read. It is quite a long read. And it tells the damning story of a $220 million dollar ponzi scheme that involved David Smith, Jared Martinez, and his two sons, Jacob Martinez and Isaac Martinez.
At the center of the story is a man named David Smith from Jamaica. Whom eventually received a 30-year prison sentence for fraud. As David Smith tells his story, he recollects that he knew absolutely nothing about the Forex markets until he met Jared Martinez through one of Jared’s many newspaper ads promising Forex riches. After becoming a student of Jared Martinez, he was convinced by Jared to invest $1 million dollars into a new Forex brokerage that Jared started out of south Florida.
The brokerage turned out to be a complete and total fraud. A Ponzi scheme, money laundering operation from day number one. And all of the accounts that administered funds for the Ponzi scheme were controlled by Jared Martinez and his two sons. The scheme was pretty simple. Jared Martinez would fly to Jamaica and present to potential investors an amazing investment opportunity. That his “Greatest and most successful student was David Smith”, and that David was generating massive returns by using Jared Martinez’s magical trading techniques.
Jared Martinez was quite the salesman. And since Jared owned the Forex brokerage that David was supposedly trading through, there was an implied credibility and trust that Jared Martinez was verifying the actual trading performance of his “Greatest and most successful student.” It turns out that David was not a very good trader and never made a dime at trading Forex. In fact, he lost several millions of dollars before quitting trading altogether. However, the people of Jamaica and South Florida believed the words of Jared Martinez and began giving millions of dollars to David to trade on their behalf.
The monies all passed through Jared Martinez brokerage in South Florida.
At some point, the Ponzi scheme imploded and Jared Martinez Forex brokerage was closed down by the CFTC and Jared paid a fine of $250k.
A criminal investigation ensued. David Smith agreed to plead guilty and also testify against Jared Martinez, Jacob Martinez, and Isaac Martinez. The US Attorney, Bruce Ambrose, assigned to the criminal case described the operation as “a huge washing machine of fraud.” However, the US Attorney declined to prosecute the Martinez’s because they had skirted just beyond the statue of limitations of five years. Of course, the Martinez’s were incredibly lucky to outpace the statute of limitations. They certainly dodged a bullet and more than likely would have faced a multi-decade prison sentence.
However, law enforcement agents in the US, Jamaica, and Turks and Caicos Islands were stunned that the US Attorney, Bruce Ambrose decided to not to pursue the case more aggressively and find a way to throw the Marinez’s in US prison. Louis Skenderis, a special agent for US Department of Homeland Security spent three years investigating the Martinez’s and was quoted as saying, “It was a great case.”
Janice Holness, executive director Jamaica’s Financial Services Commission was quoted as saying, “I think David Smith is just a pawn”, and “Smith is a crook and got what he deserves, but there are bigger fish. He’s taking the fall for these people, including Jared Martinez.”
Wrapping things up
What I think is most incredible about this story is just how close the entire Martinez clan of Forex hustlers came to receiving very long prison sentences. But through sheer luck and perfect timing, they managed to wiggle out of the hangman’s noose. Like clever Indians, they jumped on their ponies and escaped the justice that they so obviously deserved. It is really incredible. Now they are doing what that have always done, hustling poor middle-class folks out of whatever savings they have remaining.
In speaking with the ex-salesman for the company, he described Jared and his kids as “simply terrible human beings.” And “without conscious or regret, they simply take all they can, and they can never have enough.” Pretty sad.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to leave a comment below. And if you have been one of the unfortunate that fell into the Martinez trap, would love to read your comments.