This isn’t the first time an Irish passport has been used to forge a company and/or person’s existence. This time around it is believed that a group from Nigeria put together a massive gold scam that almost amounted to over €100 mil in gold from US investors. They told the investors that the unprocessed gold coming from African mines would be shipped into Europe and avoid fees, taxes, etc. Turned out that the gold didn’t exist with the company and neither did the head of the company, John Recketts. His passport number was linked to an elderly woman in Dublin whose passport was stolen.
It’s not just the U.S. that is plagued with the cheesy gold-buying commercials and ridiculously priced gold coins. Canada also deals with their fair share of gold scams. With the Cambridge House Resource Investment Conference around the corner in Vancouver, BC, it’s important that BC’s Better Business Bureau has created a Top 10 Scam List for 2012. And surprise, surprise…guess what made the top of the list? Gold scams.
As a con artist, you’ve come along way to take the cake in a contest that most businesses would like to come in last place for. Since gold’s stellar performance over the past couple of decades, criminal activity within the business is moving relatively higher. A correlation no one can ignore. With big money, comes the bigger scams.
Words spoken by Robert White, an appraiser, who checked out the inventory Nola Cronk had just acquired from Capital Gold Group. Cronk approached an appraiser after having a hellish battle with what she thought was a move to protect her retirement.
Nola Cronk’s husband had passed away, and unfortunately he was the one who took care of finances, so she was soon left to her own to find the right place for the wealth she had left. She expressed interest in Capital Gold Group who quickly took advantage of this vulnerable client. They first asked for her financial records, assuring her after viewing that she need to act quick and move over $300K into gold. Then the broker who spoke with her over the phone, soon received a signed contract and a done deal through persuasive tactics that left Cronk seemingly helpless. Even when her buyer’s remorse kicked in and she asked to lessen the investment amount, she was met with, “You’ll either buy it or we’ll take you to court and we’ll get everything you have.”
This holiday season, I came up with a not-so-original idea to buy (or give from stock) silver* as my trademark gift. Not only is it an educational tool that brings up questions about investing and the future of the dollar-based system, but it’s also worth a nice chunk of change. As we speak I’m packing for a family get together where I’ll be presenting my father with a nice 1 oz. bar of silver. It’s worth cash if he wants to cash it in, possibly even more cash if he wants to hold on to it for a while, and is a great collector’s item if he chooses to see it that way. I’m sure he will be thrilled!
The average spending habits of individuals, around Christmas, add up to about $650. If you take today’s silver prices and divide that up, you’ve got a gift for over 20 people on that list. Just think, people are getting gift cards, scarves, new socks, and toys (all wonderful and thoughtful, of course) but when they open your gift, even if they don’t appreciate it in the moment they’ll hopefully realize soon enough that you’ve given them something to learn from.
Now I usually do my dealing face to face with a local bullion shop, but just as Christmas shopping isn’t always done in a store anymore, neither are all precious metal purchases. Many friends and associates have mentioned the gold and silver buying options on eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon. Turns out it serves the same purpose as shopping for clothes online: it’s convenient. You don’t have to leave your chair. However, when factoring in the shipping, you are most almost always going to get a better deal buying direct from a dealer.
Another thing to note when shopping online for your bullion, aside from the convenience charge, is the fine print. The kind bullion buyer from www.targetrichenvironment.com shared a worthy scam you all should be aware of. On eBay beware of a silver bullion item with a vague description and a good price. That seller is hoping you skip the fine print and miss the fact that it is not the .999 you are looking for.
There are listings of supposed .999 silver accompanied by the words “100 Mills”. This isn’t pure silver. It is a copper bar or round plated in silver. The seller may tag the item as “1 Troy Oz. 100 Mills .999 Silver”.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Although we refer to the conventional pathways to purchasing gold, I’m sure over time as you begin immersing yourself in the precious metal’s community you will find yourself looking for deals in all places. Your ears will begin to perk up when you hear of any bargain that comes in right at, or under, spot price.
This scam is to remind you that whether or not it is a licensed business or an individual on the street, having your gold or silver’s legitimacy confirmed is a must before following through with a purchase. One way of knowing is dealing with a well known dealer with a great reputation. Learn a lesson from this woman.
Last week, in Bakersfield, CA, a scammer approached a woman in a Big Lots expressing her desperation to sell the gold bars she had in her possession to pay for an emergency surgery for her father. Her scamming-sidekick soon arrived saying he had found a store to purchase the bar for $12,000 but had to wait until 5 p.m. to go back and sell the next bar due to the low amount of cash the store held on hand.
It’s not just the bait and switch scams you have to watch out for; scams can be even scummier than you can imagine. This particular scam cost individuals tens of thousands as Global Bullion Exchange owner Jamie Campany mislead his over 1400 clients to invest in gold “accounts” that would never actually hold the bullion.
Jamie’s company was functioning out of a boiler room in Florida that was converted into a call center. His sales team would find leads, connect the phone number to addresses on Google Earth to see what kind of property the potential buyer owned. The salesperson would then carefully select a potentially profitable lead by finding the largest houses. When the home owner answered, the salesperson would proceed to use every tactic in the book to eventually scam the person into buying gold that the company didn’t own and never would convincing the customer that an account would hold the purchase until the client decided to cash in. They even talked people who had no free-flowing cash into investing!
The Austin-based gold dealer US Money Reserve, Inc., has agreed to pay out $5 million to customers who consider themselves victims of wrong-doing by the gold dealers’ sales practices. However, the dealers claim that they, in fact, have done nothing wrong, but are working in compliance with the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Just protocol in their minds…and just a quick bit of research on this dealer could have told you to be cautious and have your gold buying guard up.
The owner of the company, Milton Verret, is an esteemed philanthropist according to his personal website, however if you ask the Better Business Bureau of Texas about his money-making business, they’ll show you a big “F”. Even other states flashed warnings about his company’s sales practices.
When you first venture out to purchase your gold or silver the choices will be plentiful and so will the advice. You’ll face the options like: squares or circles, shiny or dull, and government issued or good ol’ minted bullion. It can become overwhelming and even confusing deciding whether junk or .999 rounds are the best choice for you. However, one of the best things you can do before making that kind of decision is consulting with experts…and/or someone you trust.
When I first decided that I should be investing in precious metals, the motivation came from my readings on the Federal Reserve Bank and the inflation that was taking place in the US and abroad. I had always thought it was silly to keep money in a bank account when the interest I was accruing wasn’t working fast enough to combat the decline of the dollar’s purchasing power. Thus, I turned to what seemed like a trustworthy investment: precious metals (namely silver, because I didn’t have $500K to throw around). It was then I realized, I need to start educating myself. I hope this was a thought that crossed your mind as well.