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Fun on Friday: Don’t Get Duped

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Gold scams fascinate me.

I guess it’s because I can’t imagine getting suckered by these setups. I mean, who is going to buy gold in a gas station parking lot? Or believe that some dude from Africa they’re in an internet relationship with is going to pay them to ship gold? It seems implausible people would buy these stories. But a lot of people do. They fall for these scams. As a result, the scammers keep scamming.

Here’s how to avoid getting duped — don’t take anybody’s word for anything. Check, verify and confirm.

It’s interesting how scammers target different demographics. The scammers on the dating sites target the lonely. Some of the telephone and email scammers target the elderly. Well, I’ve got a new one for you today  – scammers targeting political conservatives.

And my-oh-my it was a lucrative scam.

Two Los Angeles men reportedly ripped off conservative and religious investors to the tune of $180 million. It wasn’t just a few people who got duped either. According to the report by the USA Herald, 1,600 investors fell prey to the scheme.

Regulators allege that Lucas Asher and Simon Batashvili convinced investors that the federal government would seize their assets unless they converted them to gold and silver. In response, these poor suckers liquidated their retirement accounts and bought gold and silver at astronomical markups between 100 and 300%.

I’ll just pause here and say that if somebody is trying to sell you gold or silver at a 300% markup – that’s not a good deal. Ever. Don’t do that.

CFTC Chairman Heath Tarbert said the defendants “swindled tens of millions from the victims, who were targeted for their politically conservative and Christian leanings.”

Now, I think I know why these guys targeted this specific demographic. No – it’s not because conservatives and religious folks are dumb. That what people on the left would have you believe. But these are the same people who think we can run the world on windmills. There are dummies in every demographic. I think it’s because conservatives tend to distrust the government – which is pretty smart. They also tend to distrust mainstream media. Also smart. But going too far to the extreme is never wise. I think if the government was planning on confiscating your assets, somebody out there in the mainstream would be reporting on it. I also wouldn’t trust two dudes to have this inside knowledge not available out there in any mainstream source. That should raise red flags.

Look, I don’t fault people for mistrusting the mainstream. But you probably shouldn’t blindly trust Lucas Asher and Simon Batashvili either.

I mean, I don’t really trust anybody. Research and verify. Failure to do so can be costly.

It’s kind of ironic that the claim made by these swindlers is the exact opposite of another common scam. Some unscrupulous coin dealers will tell you that the feds are going to confiscate everybody’s gold, but you’ll be safe if you buy their “collectible” coins at a big markup. I’ll repeat the advice from above: if somebody is trying to sell you gold or silver at a huge markup – that’s not a good deal. Ever. Don’t do that.

If you want to dig a little deeper into the whole confiscation con, we wrote a report outlining exactly what it is and why it’s highly unlikely.

Bottom line – do your own research. Compare prices. Trust your own common sense. And don’t get duped.

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. We dig up some of the off-the-wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Click here to read other posts in this series.

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About The Author

Michael Maharrey is the managing editor of the SchiffGold blog, and the host of the Friday Gold Wrap Podcast and It's Your Dime interview series.
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