Release: 5228-06

For Release: September 18, 2006

U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Charges Two Websites with Commodities Options Scam

CFTC Alleges that American Energy Exchange and York Commodities Fraudulently Solicited Customers; Customer Losses Total Over $1.39 Million

Washington, D.C.— The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced today the filing of an enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against American Energy Exchange (AMENX) and York Commodities (York) alleging fraud in the solicitation of customers to purchase options on commodity futures contracts. The matter has been assigned to the Honorable Lewis A. Kaplan, U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York.

The CFTC’s complaint alleges that AMENX and York, through misrepresentations on their websites, and, defrauded customers out of over $1.39 million. York allegedly solicited customers to trade options on energy futures contracts with AMENX by duping customers into believing that: (1) AMENX is a futures exchange; (2) York is its broker; and (3) both are located in the United States. As alleged, York leased the use of a fax number with a (212) New York area code to substantiate its representations as a United States-based company. Likewise, as part of the fraud to deceive customers into believing it was a reputable commodity futures exchange, the complaint alleges that AMENX on its website listed firms as members of AMENX when, in fact, none were members and had never heard of AMENX.

Federal Court Issues Statutory Restraining Order

On September 12, 2006, the Honorable Lewis A. Kaplan issued a restraining order prohibiting the destruction of books and records, allowing Commission representative to inspect such records, and ordering defendants to show cause why they should be permitted to continue to fraudulently represent to prospective customers that AMENX is a futures exchange or that York is a broker and are both located in the United States.

In its ongoing action, the CFTC is seeking, among other things, a permanent injunction, repayment of customer losses, and monetary penalties for violations of the Commodity Exchange Act.

Defendant York Commodities is unrelated to the York Commodities located in Scarsdale, New York, and the York Commodities, Inc., located in York, Nebraska.

Investors Worldwide Should Be Wary of Internet Scams

The CFTC warns investors about scams where fraudsters steal the identity of legitimate companies connected to the commodities industry by creating websites with addresses that sound like the name of an existing company. These websites are quite sophisticated in appearance, in part because substantial portions of the content may be copied from websites of existing companies. Customers should conduct due diligence when directed to wire funds to another country. (For more information, see the CFTC’s Consumer Protection website page at /ConsumerProtection/index.htm.)

The CFTC wishes to thank the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, the Bundesbank and German Financial Supervisory Authority, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, the Swiss Federal Banking Commission, the New York Mercantile Exchange, and the Office of Investor Education and Assistance, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for their assistance.

The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members are responsible for this case: David Oakland, Philip Rix, Nathan Ploener, Manal Sultan, Lenel Hickson, Stephen J. Obie, and Richard Wagner.

Media Contacts
Alan Sobba

Dennis Holden

Last Updated: April 26, 2010