Trade Futures 4 Less: A Ponzi Scheme?

Trade Futures 4 Less
  • Honesty
  • Safety Of Funds
  • Quality of Customer Support
  • Broker Experience
  • Platform Availability


Mr. Pratik Patel of discount futures brokerage, and various other trading related websites is under investigation by the National Futures Association. The allegations are very serious and are described as a “Ponzi-scheme like situation.”

The NFA investigation team has discovered that Mr. Patel has accepted client funds and deposited funds into his personal checking account. Also discovered several instances where “photoshopped” brokerage account statements were sent to futures account holders.

Investigators have been stymied by an uncooperative Mr. Patel that is claiming that client records were lost in a house fire. How convenient.

Investors should proceed with caution and review prior account statements for signs of fraud.

Pros: Extremely cheap futures brokerage.
Cons: Allegations of fraud by the National Futures Association.

Thanks for reading today’s update on futures brokerage:

Trade Futures 4 Less is a popular discount futures brokerage owned and operated by Pratik Patel, operating out of Houston Texas. The brokerage is what is termed as an IB or Introducing Broker. What exactly does this mean? Essentially, the company serves two primary functions. The first function is marketing and acquisition of new customer accounts and deposits. The second function is customer service and support. After an account is opened and funded, the customer is then supported by the Introducing Broker in various capacities.

Some examples of those capacities include helping customers navigate the usage of a trading platform, providing general commodities and futures trading advice, helping clients enter and exit trades, and sending clients daily account statements that show trading profits and losses. Some well known Introducing Brokers include NinjaTrader, and Optimus Futures.

In 2015, TradingSchools.Org published a web page that contained a master file of nearly every Introducing Brokerage in existence. We attempted to curate a list of every futures broker advertising on the internet and build a spreadsheet that contained what each broker was charging in commissions. The idea was to help customers find the absolutely cheapest available futures trading commissions. The central argument was that service and safety of funds were secondary to commission pricing. That the futures brokerage industry had become essentially a commodity and that 99% of traders need only worry about the commissions paid and platform fees. I was wrong. Big time.

TradingSchools.Org attempted to clean up the original article by placing greater importance on the safety of funds, and customer support. In one article published October 2015, TradingSchools.Org interviewed Matt Zimberg of Optimus Futures and he gave me a real education and a stinging scolding on how I was making a huge mistake by placing too much emphasis on commissions, and nearly zero exposure to customer safety and customer support. Matt has been around FOREVER and has an excellent reputation. Most everything I know of Matt Zimberg was told to me by actual customers of his brokerage. You can read about Matt Zimberg and Optimus Futures here.

This is not a plug for Optimus Futures, but I would like take a moment to write about the latest scandalous behaviour that was recently discovered by the NFA or National Futures Association. In my mind’s eye, I can see Matt Zimberg wagging his finger at me, saying “I told you so! You didn’t listen to me. Customers that seek the ultimate lowest commissions always end up paying the highest commissions!” Enough with that, let’s talk about the latest fraud uncovered by the NFA.

TradeFutures4Less and those other websites

Pratik Patel is a one man futures trading brokerage. He does everything himself. From his apartment in Houston Texas. He owns and operates many different websites. A list below is the most recent list of futures trading brokerage websites that he promotes.

If took a look at the list of websites, there are quite a few. The main overarching theme is “cheap” trading commissions. But as Matt Zimberg told me, “a broker that is willing to work for nothing is probably going to leave you with nothing.” And, when a broker is willing to offer a service that earns him nearly nothing in commissions, then the broker is likely looking to capitalize on something on the side.

It appears that Pratik Patel had something on the side. On February 21, 2017, the National Futures Association filed a devastating complaint against Pratik Patel. Since February 21,  2017, TradingSchools.Org has received over a dozen requests to write about Pratik Patel and his various brokerage websites. It is important to note that these requests did not come from retail customers, these requests came from registered Series 3 brokers that compete with Pratik Patel for brokerage business. Apparently, there are a lot of brokers pissed off that Pratik has been winning far too many clients by undercutting trading commissions by a “nickel and diming” the competition. All of the complaining brokerages and registered individuals wish to remain anonymous. Their opinions should be considered biased.

Apparently, there are a lot of brokers pissed off that Pratik has been winning far too many clients by undercutting trading commissions by “nickel and diming” the competition. All of the complaining brokerages and registered individuals wish to remain anonymous. Their opinions should be considered biased.

National Futures Association Allegations

The National Futures Association is the regulatory body for futures brokerages. When they issue a press release with highly detailed allegations of fraud, its very serious business. Let’s review some of the allegations, it is important to note that at this time, these are allegations.

As per the NFA, on January 2017, the NFA received a customer complaint that (Customer A) had invested $17,000 with a ‘futures investment fund’ operated by Pratik Patel. During the course of several months, she was sent monthly account statements that showed steady increases in her futures trading account balance. The most recent account statement showed an account balance of approximately $40,000. At that time, she decided to cash out and close her trading account. Mr. Pratel responded that her money would be wired to her shortly. It never arrived. At some point, Mr. Patel stopped responding to her repeated e-mails and phone calls.

Based upon this information, the NFA then searched for any records of a registered ‘futures trading fund’ by Mr. Patel. Nothing could be found. On January 26, 2017, the NFA, fearing fraud, commenced an aggressive examination of Mr. Patel. The NFA subsequently discovered that Patel had solicited and accepted funds from at least four other customers for the ‘futures investment fund’.

The examination team with the NFA then requested a full list of ‘futures investment fund’ participants. Patel claimed that he could not provide a complete list of participants because the records had been kept at his parents’ house. And his parents’ house had burned down in a fire. And all the records had been burned in the fire. The NFA exam team then requested all emails relating to customers of the ‘futures investment fund’. Patel then claimed that all emails were permanently erased and he could not recover any emails older than 30-days.

Of the customers that the NFA was able to actually interview (Customer B), a customer was told that his funds were kept in a segregated trading account and that his monthly average monthly return would range from 10%-40%. Monthly account statements were mailed to customer (Customer B).

However, upon further examination, the NFA discovered that the account statements were actually phony and appeared to have been created through “photoshopping” older account statements and inserting phony information onto what appeared to be a real statement.

In total, the NFA investigation team discovered Customer A, B, C, and D had all been sent phony brokerage statements that were created by “photoshopping.” In one particular instance, the fake account statement showed a list of supposed trades that were net losers. But Patel sloppily changed only the balance amount to show only profitable trades. A clear sign of fraud, and sloppy fraud at that.

The big question is how many people have been burned through this fraudulent activity? This is a question that the NFA would like to answer, but cannot because apparently the records were kept in a house that supposedly burned down. And the emails were all deleted.

Mr. Patel is attempting to defend himself by stating that the fraud occurred prior to his registration with the NFA. And since the fraud occurred prior to official registration, then the NFA’s  enforcement action is not valid. However, the NFA discovered that even after his NFA registration, he continued to send false statements to investors. Furthermore, the NFA is alleging that the activity appears to be a Ponzi-like scheme.

The NFA is also alleging that “Patel provided false and misleading information to NFA investigators throughout the course of the NFA’s examination, and it was not until the NFA confronted him with numerous falsehoods that he finally confessed to the fraud.”

What happens to Pratik Patel now? Are client funds safe?

The big question that readers want to know, “are my funds safe?” Truthfully, we don’t know. Some investors thought that they were opening actual brokerage accounts. Some sent funds directly to the personal checking account of Patel. Anyone that personally sent funds directly to Patel, and not a segregated trading account, those funds are probably lost. However, if you sent your funds directly to the segregated account held at Dorman Trading, then your funds are probably safe. But in truth, we dont even know if that is valid. There is also the possibility that Patel sent “photoshopped” account statements using Dorman Trading letterhead.

If you are concerned that you might a party to the fraud, or suspicious that your Dorman Trading account statements are not authentic, then you should contact the person in charge of supervising Patel, his name is Bob Siler at Dorman Trading, and he can be reached directly at 800-552-7007.

TradingSchools.Org reached out directly to Bob Siler at Dorman Trading, the FCM or Futures Commodity Merchant in charge of supervising Mr. Patel. He responded that “this has been keeping me up at night, and I am genuinely worried.” He also explained that Dorman Trading is ending their relationship with Mr. Patel on March 31, 2017. Why not sooner? Bob Siler explained that all of Mr. Patels accounts are being transferred to another Introducing Broker named Stage5 Trading. Apparently, Stage5 Trading purchased the “book of customers” from Mr. Patel. The only question…if there are additional missing funds, is Stage5 Trading and Dorman Trading going to reimburse those customers for any faked or fraudulent trading accounts?

Additionally, with the seriousness of these allegations, were any clients trading with simulated accounts and not actual ‘live’ trading accounts? This is the main question that various brokers have requested that TradingSchools.Org write about. At this point, we just don’t know how deep the rabbit hole goes. If you have ever had a futures trading account with Mr. Patel, you should probably take another look at prior brokerage statements, looking for signs of fraud.

Speaking with Mr. Patel

TradingSchools.Org made several attempts to reach Mr. Patel by telephone. We were finally able to reach him and discuss these allegations. He responded that none of the allegations are true and he has hired an attorney to fight the charges levied by the NFA.

Additionally, he mentioned that one of the accounts was from a jealous ex-girlfriend from 10 or 15 years ago. That she was looking to ‘shake him down’ because he had recently purchased a new Corvette.

Mr. Patel categorically denies all allegations against him. Perhaps there is “more smoke than fire”. Time will tell.

Wrapping things up

Thanks for reading today’s update. It has been a couple of years since the last big scandal regarding a futures broker. Most recently was Peregrine Financial, another introducing broker that stole client funds and the owner of that company was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

In my opinion, the moral of the story is that choosing a broker is about not having your money stolen. Don’t look for the lowest commissions, this is secondary. The most important thing is to make sure your money is safe. And if you have to spend an additional .25 cents for that safety…its money well spent. Brokers that rely upon gimmick pricing, or an “all you can eat buffet” approach to trading probably are not making their money from trading commissions, but from some sort of side activity or gimmick. Buyer beware.

I can’t get that stupid quote from Matt Zimberg out of my head, “customers that seek the ultimate lowest commissions always end up paying the highest commissions.” Maybe he is right.

Thanks again for reading. And don’t forget to leave a comment below. Also for those interested in the ‘nitty-gritty’ of the NFA complaint, I have included this below.

Pratik Patel complaint
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Rufusa (@guest_5056471)
10 months ago

I know this review is over three years old. Nevertheless, I was searching for T4FL on Google, and I didn’t a search engine result to lead me here.

I won’t be placing my money with them. I will choose to go with an FCM instead. It’s not worth the risk to save a couple of pennies in commissions.

ALEX PYRGAKIS (@guest_32801)
2 years ago

I have an account with them and for now i know they are just an introducing broker.
I can say for sure that they work with stage 5 trading and the funds are kept at Dormain. For a fact they dont keep customers money so this article is irrelevant at my time of writing this

Luke (@guest_27147)
4 years ago

I’m still trying to figure out how a retail brokerage could possibly run a Ponzi scheme. Are you implying that Dorman was in on this as well? How would an IB falsify statements that come from an FCM? Dorman is third generation family owned and operated. You are making some serious claims against them and Pratik Patel.

I’m sure Matt Zimberg at Optimus has nothing to gain from this article…….

Kevin Davey
Kevin Davey (@guest_27159)
4 years ago
Reply to  Emmett Moore

My statements always were on PFG Best letterhead. I never suspected a thing…

(I could not upload photo, so hopefully a link to the statement header works)
comment image

Dan (@guest_27553)
4 years ago
Reply to  Emmett Moore

A couple of corrections and some comments:

1. The correct name of his Dorman representative is spelled Robert (Bob) Cihlar. (not Siler).
2. I know for a fact that when a retail client contacted Bob Cihlar to open an account with Dorman – he was always transferred automatically to Pratik Patel. Meaning – Bob Cihlar is (was) more than just Pratik’s rep. They are working together and he is benefiting directly and taking a significant cut of the commissions, so I suppose he should have known more.

Emmet is right – other competing brokers are pissed/unbiased. But the thing that I think might be pissing them off is that there are brokers in this business that are professional and keeping the game fair and in compliance. And then there is this one men show “broker” who sit in his home and use very aggressive email marketing and seem to acquire mailing lists of prospects from shady education providers and advertise those low rates. And also find “alternative” illegal revenue streams that will compensate for the low rates – which destroy the reputation of the industry.
I doubt that Pratik will still be in this business in a couple of months (at least registered with the NFA). What he is suspected in is a big no-no and no FCM will work with him or clear his business. My guess is that if you visit his NFA page in a couple of months you will see that is terminated.

Steve Hightower
Steve Hightower (@guest_27124)
4 years ago

I’m a customer of TF4L in London and I’m very aware of the regulations and the risk involved with trading futures and having your money in futures. I read this report by Emmett with complete and utter disappointment. Heck, at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Emmett deletes this comment given the hack job he did and the sell-out display that he has portrayed here.

First of all, I have actually read the allegations rather reported by the NFA. The actions taken by Patel where BEFORE he was a broker and became registered. Yes, he clearly got himself in trouble and tried to cheat his way out of it and that is inexcusable. The area of concern I see is that he wasn’t forthright with the NFA. I get it. You screwed up, built a business and now it is being threatened so you do what you think you have to in order to save it.

LET’S BE CLEAR: There was no Ponzi scheme under the brokerage. My funds went to a registered FCM and into a segregated account. A futures broker never comes into contact with my funds, so Patel couldn’t take them. I see no risk there. When it comes to fraud on my account, it comes from the FCM (remember MF Global and PFG?).

Secondly, these are allegations that Dorman became aware of and their compliance department did the right thing. They shut off all new business and moved to remove Patel Futures (also known as TF4L and other names) as an IB from their books. This is where Stage 5 Trading comes in.

Thirdly, Stage 5 Trading was approached, according to my sources, to initiate a smooth transition of TF4L/Patel’s customers so that their access is not interrupted. Stage 5 has the number 1 position as far as brokers on Investimonials/ and many different areas. Their job in this is to continue to be the first point of contact for my account and services while it remains at Dorman. I welcome this move. I have always wanted to join Stage 5 but didn’t have enough funds to open an account. They are now making it possible to be a part of them at discount rates. Woohooo!

The statement by Emmett: “The only question…if there are additional missing funds, is Stage5 Trading and Dorman Trading going to reimburse those customers for any faked or fraudulent trading accounts?” is complete and utter bullshit.

The fraud happened before Patel was a broker. Why would Dorman pay anyone back? I would expect Emmett to understand how this business works if he is going to run a site for traders to get “expert” critique of brokers and educators. Come on man!

Finally, there is this entire plug for Optimus Futures and Matt at the end of the article. This section alone makes your site completely non-credible. You are bringing in Optimus who has a long rap sheet of harassing customers and educators for their business and you are asking them for advice on brokerage????

I have news for you: Commissions aren’t everything. The real cost in trading comes in the form of losses and Optimus does nothing about that. So 49 cents commissions or 79 cent commissions make no real difference to me. Patel was clearly running a good business and was growing before this issue came up.

Bringing Optimus into this conversation, linking to them and providing a direct referral to them through these comments is the same as reaching into someone’s pocket as they lay there dying on the street. It is a disgrace. Clearly, Optimus is some sort of sponsor or friend and this creates a direct conflict of interest for this site and its credibility.

Please clean up this review and make it objective and FACTUAL. People make mistakes…that doesn’t mean we should line them up and shoot them. The regulators will make Patel pay for his past and he can move on.

I personally think Patel has a great libel suit against you and Optimus based on this post because you are mis-stating facts. Good luck!

PS: No, this is not Patel. Again, I’m just a customer who was pretty content with his responsive service before it all went to shit with this investigation.

Steve Hightower
Steve Hightower (@guest_27136)
4 years ago
Reply to  Emmett Moore

Again, you are casting a dark cloud where one is not warranted. Dorman doesn’t have to go through an audit because nothing has been done that is a part of this investigation during the time that Patel was a broker and an IB under Dorman.

Just to bring you up to speed, my statement come from Dorman’s server directly. In futures, the broker doesn’t send statements. They come from the clearing firm. Unless you are accusing Dorman of impropriety, then they really don’t have anything to do with this except that they are holding the funds and the accounts and have chosen to put them under Stage 5’s care.

The idea that there is a cover up even though there is no evidence of such action makes you a hasty journalist. When a Guaranteed IB (which Patel was) is under investigation, the FCM makes sure that the clients are safe by taking charge of the book of business. Since Dorman can’t handle a large number of retail accounts like mine, they pass it on to someone who they trust. Ultimately, Dorman is responsible to the public to make sure all is smooth and safe.

Please stick to the facts so that your site can be credible. I’m really surprised and disappointed by how easily you are jumping to conclusions even though your site is supposedly “investigative” and is after the truth.

If the Wall Street Journal screamed headlines of conspiracy ever time the SEC looks into someone’s books, then WSJ with have about the same value as the Enquirer.

As a financial site, be more of a fact finder rather than an Enquirer or one of these other garbage papers we have here in the UK who are all about gossip.

Cyn (@guest_27144)
4 years ago
Reply to  Emmett Moore

Sounds like a poor imitation of a Madoff who did not know how to keep the hopium flowing.

Stray Dog
Stray Dog (@guest_27132)
4 years ago

“Stage 5 has the number 1 position as far as brokers on Investimonials/” Oh well, if these pillars of the trading community have Stage 5 at the number 1 position then everything must be hunky-dory. No need to worry about your cash or a little NFA report or comments from them of Ponzi like schemes. I mean who are the NFA anyway? And, after all, Big Mike and Tim Sykes say Stage 5’s a great outfit to let this con man move your money to.

dtchurn (@guest_27225)
4 years ago
Reply to  Stray Dog

Yep, that’s really FT71’s schtick, getting new accounts for stage5 as well as shilling for the investorRT platform, and all condoned as a favored vendor on bmt/fio for years.

Amit (@guest_27120)
4 years ago

Another main question is as to why such individuals are allowed to carry on until the investigation is complete. There should be some article with NFA that accounts and services of such fraudulent operators should immediately transfer under some NFA authorized care taker/administrator so that existing clients do not get hurt more than they already have.

Rob B
Rob B (@guest_27119)
4 years ago

Great Article, which will warn future suckers. I cannot believe how low these con artist go. They are lower than whales shit. I advice anyone to make sure they know exactly who is holding their money. Of course we all remember MF Global.

dtchurn (@guest_27227)
4 years ago
Reply to  Rob B

The schmuck Corzine averaged down like mad using british loopholes in order to average down even more of the firm’s funds until they had to steal from some of the customer segregated accounts. In the end he got off with a fine for losing billions and disappeared into obscurity.
I actually dodged a bullet with PFGBest. I was following a shamster who was paid to do “trading webinars lessons” on a forex educational site back then and I had not tried futures yet. He recommended PFGBest! even though the platforms did not look like anything he used which he often kept away from the screen and showed us his dummy MT4 platform. I saw the doofy video with Wasendorf in your face on the front page bragging about their then new office complex. I tried the “BestDirect” and Genesis Trade Navigator trial platofrms and Navigator looked crappy like it was was made for Windows 9x. I know Emmett said he likes to script with it, so maybe it was an older version. Anyways I ditched the idea and thankfully missed out on the sudden debacle and bankruptcy literally a few months later while many others complained about their frozen assets and had to go through the clawback mess lasting years since. “Fritz” also linked that one of the owners of Navigator was linked to Rockwell trading, a known shamster site. I ended up with Ninjatrader and we all know of their cesspool corruption although perhaps recently they have done some token banning of a few of the worst shamsters thanks to the tradingschools effect.

kenneth (@guest_27112)
4 years ago

f…. I have an account with this broker, time to contact Dorman..

Thanks for the find, Emmett

kenneth (@guest_27116)
4 years ago
Reply to  kenneth

I called Dorman and there are no issues with my account… phew…

Mike M
Mike M (@guest_27117)
4 years ago
Reply to  kenneth

WTF, doesn’t it seem like it is getting worse. First sham educators that can’t trade their way out of a paper bag. Now, what the hell, let’s just steal the customer’s deposits and let them trade on a SIM. Hey, if they make money just steal it from new deposits when asked for a wire. All the regulation that goes into registering advisers and traders for public firms doesn’t seem to prevent pure con artists to take a shot in this business. I personally haven’t seen it this bad. There needs to be an increase in over sight for every aspect of this business. I’m glad this man was caught. The question is…how man more are out there??? Glad to hear your funds are ok.

kenneth (@guest_27122)
4 years ago
Reply to  kenneth

Here’s an update for anyone sharing my situation:

If the funds are with Dorman, they are safe in a segregated account, and the introducing broker relationship will move to stage 5 trading, who acquired tf4l. I happened to have had an account with stage5 trading too for the past few years and have been treated very well – so I am confident the transition will be smooth.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x