There’s fraud everywhere. From inconceivable romance schemes to official dietary recommendations (think USDA food pyramid) to big bank market spoofing to hidden taxation via monetary policy.
In each case, you’re promised a certain value, only to receive something of lesser value, or no value at all.
Some fraudsters take advantage of your gullibility. Others use their authority or assumed expertise to exploit your ignorance or general lack of knowledge.
The most recent case in this latter form of “fraud,” if we can even call it that given its legality, comes from government regulators and a handful of virtue-signaling individuals who find it in their best interest to rail against fraud (despite their own similar flaws).
Where the CFTC is Right on Target
To be clear, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is NOT a fraudulent organization. It’s vehemently anti-fraud. And it uses its regulatory position to punish market participants who violate industry rules.
But their legal jurisdiction (and to a certain degree, their industry knowledge) typically ends wherever the circulation of “paper derivatives” end.
Beyond that, their ignorance in this space makes their position a bit shaky. Still, they do nail a few things right on target. For instance, a recent press release on the CFTC website gives us the following:
“The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and 30 state regulators that are members of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) announced the filing of a joint civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas against two precious metals dealers and their companies for perpetrating a $185 million fraudulent scheme targeting elderly persons nationwide.”
Who are the defendants in this alleged scheme?
The complaint charges defendants TMTE, Inc., d/b/a Metals.com, Chase Metals, LLC, Chase Metals, Inc. (collectively “Metals.com”), Barrick Capital, Inc., and its principals, Lucas Asher a/k/a Lucas Thomas Erb a/k/a Luke Asher and Simon Batashvili with executing an ongoing nationwide fraud that solicited and received more than $185 million in investor funds to purchase fraudulently overpriced gold and silver bullion. Tower Equity, LLC is also charged as a relief defendant.
All of these are businesses operating in or near Los Angeles County. Close to one of our operation centers in Calabasas. So, naturally, this bothers us, as some potential clients might be gullible enough to believe the “one bad apple” scenario, which isn’t true.
At the same time, any client falling for this bias might also be the type of person to fall for fraudulent schemes--meaning, lacking the necessary skepticism to make sound decisions.
Nevertheless, when a company like Metals.com uses unethical or illicit sales tactics, the entire industry loses a little bit of credibility. What they did was easy enough to avoid, making it absolutely unacceptable.
According to this Quartz article, Luke Asher, the influencer and driving force behind Metals.com, used “doom and gloom” antics to sell “overpriced” metals to senior citizens. According to a Metals.com spokesperson, the company uses “machine learning” to determine “best price,” hence making their prices not only accurate but fair.
First off, Luke Asher is an investor who has backed several companies. Nothing wrong with that. But in his company-related communications, he operated under several pseudonyms (as in, fictitious personas?). That alone is questionable. It’s also dishonest, and arguably fraudulent.
It gets worse. Metals.com salespeople are notorious for claiming they’re part of a “conservative team” that exerts influence on right-wing celebrities or institutions like Fox News, Hannity, Limbaugh, etc.
None of that is true. And that part of their operation is a pure scam. Straight and simple.
But as far as metals sold far above market value, well, doesn’t the client play a role in that as well? There are other precious metals dealers (like ours) who not only have a clean record but also prices that are transparent, competitive, and open to comparison.
There’s a saying that “market price is whatever price the market is willing to pay for it.” Price is determined by supply and demand. Did Metals.com offer something so unique, so rare, that they were able to charge a premium 300% above our standard price?
Possibly. More likely, however, that wasn’t the case. And any client could have shopped around for a better price. We would’ve been very willing to help.
And perhaps some of their potential clients, after talking to us, realized that the value of their “hype” wasn’t as valuable as the price of their metals.
After all, smart investors buying gold and silver are driven by the need for sound money and a safe haven. They’re also driven by reason. They’re not driven by celebrity influence or far-fetched doom and gloom narratives.
When you buy metals, make sure you’re paying for the metals, not the stories, ideological sentiment, or in the case of Luke Asher--or whichever name he’s using today--the influencer stardust, however cheap it is.
Now that we’ve covered the fraudulent on the “fraudster” side, let’s touch upon the fraudulence from the opposing side--the regulators and their supporters.
Regulatory Fraudsters Against the Real Fraudsters
In 2010, the government went after conservative radio host Glenn Beck and his radio show sponsor, Goldline International; the former, for his conspiracy theory-leaning right-wing political bent, the latter for its alleged unethical sales practices, and bait-and-switch tactics verging on fraud and theft.
We’re not going to comment on Goldline’s allegedly unethical sales tactics, as the dispute over gold prices, particularly when it comes to numismatics, is not always simple. The matter was eventually settled.
But it’s worth noting that the Congressman who took center stage amid this pro-ethics, pro-transparency, anti-fraud, and anti-corruption investigation was none other than Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), the soon-to-be-discovered sex offender and serial sexter (sending explicit photos of himself to women and one 15-year old child).
Well, the investigation forced Glenn Beck off Fox News. His anti-Soros series never aired (with respect, we assume there are differing opinions on George Soros among our clients; but that was one of Beck’s main media motifs). Goldline eventually settled. Meanwhile, Weiner was content doing his “Weiner” thing with the camera while all of this was going on.
Eventually, all got resolved, as “risk” claimed its reckoning (anybody pursuing such returns will have to accept the consequences of the risks they take). But boy was it ugly. And don’t even bring up “ethics,” or a “good side” versus “bad side.” This was all about profit and power; the latter under the guise of ethics and justice. No good guys here.
What about Peter Schiff? He railed against Luke Asher and Metals.com for duping a few far-right individuals out of their retirement. We too can rail against Asher for spinning such a compelling-though-not-convincing propaganda pitch which he then sold to a couple of wealthy right-wingers. But, the victims made the purchase without doing their due diligence. Nobody forced them to buy. Peter Schiff is right in calling them victims--but they’re also largely victims of their own ignorance on "how to properly calculate precious metals premiums." Schiff consistently devalues the numismatic markets with "Buyer Beware Rhetoric"and sides with CUSIP-listed "fungible" products, tracked by the American Bankers Association.
It would help if there was a thorough and objective business rating firm beyond the reach of corruption for the precious metals industry. Don’t think BBB.
Schiff exposed their supposed scam upon undertaking His thorough investigation, subsequently concluding that the BBB was taking payment from gold and silver companies; something he learned when Goldline’s BBB rating went from A+ to “non-existent.” No F (unlike His company that received an F grade due to only one customer complaint) but a “no rating.” Goldline must have paid the BBB to do them that favor, keeping their record “clean”. The non-profit rating organization a fraud? I’ll leave that for you to decide. But I think we have enough data to see Peter Schiff's take on the whole thing, "Numismatics Coins is a scam, BBB is a scam, and CUSIP-listed, Fungible-Gold, and Silver is Amazing!"
Oh, and if you happen to belong to the anti-Soros camp (again, without trying to offend those who are not), Schiff now allegedly belongs to a wider ring, one including Eric Sprott, who virtually sold out to George Soros who’s now allegedly taking over the Texas gold industry. Imagine a wholesome American name like "The Texas Bullion Depository" being owned by George Soros, a person some consider to be a loathe villain.
No matter how you look at it--from whichever side of the fence you sit--the whole thing has descended into a bit of madness.
It all comes down to this. Financial advisors are bleeding money. These media stirs create confusion around a very simple asset allowing your FA to warn you against gold because they’re looking after your interests first. Wrong. They are more focused on their AUM (assets under management) before you.
The CFTC scam warning signs would actually be helpful if they weren’t so vague, read their headline for yourself, "CFTC and 30 States Charge Los Angeles Precious Metals Dealers in Ongoing $185 Million Fraud Targeting the Elderly," pretty opaque, right?
As metals owners we should understand there are two forces at play here: precious metals propaganda and anti-sound money propaganda; not only gold scammers but also anti-gold “psychological scammers” who try to get you, the gold and silver investor, to throw away the baby with the bathwater. Both aim to profit in one way or another.
Ultimately, you have to make a sound decision as to the role that “sound money” plays in this economy and your portfolio. This means you are responsible for doing your own due diligence so that you can determine the right product for your financial goals plus the right price that you’re “willing” to pay for it--not more, and not less than what you decide is fair and favorable.
If this article is a part of your due diligence, please note the following; I am a Forbes Finance Council member, Platinum credit verified with Dun and Bradstreet, Inc. 5000 fastest growing company in the U.S., Our company holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, Triple-A rating with the Business Consumer Alliance, Platts Global Metal Award Nominee, Self IRA Services Provider of the year for 2020 and we are 5-star rated by our customers all over the internet. Most importantly, all of our reps use their REAL NAMES and are background checked by Ethics.org!
If your account has been mishandled by any of the companies previously mentioned in this article, I’m sorry.
But with gold and silver, time heals the wounds of overpayment! Just look at USdebtclock.org and you'll see the Fed is printing $30,000 for every ounce of gold mined and $4,000 per ounce for silver!
(These numbers may reflect each other in reality soon with the mass adoption of digital currencies taking place around the globe.)
I’d also like to say, “Hold on to your precious metals and don’t let TPTB (the powers that be) scare you out of REAL MONEY!” because that’s what I truly believe is happening here.
Hold your gold and silver investments in physical form, monitor the economy as objectively as possible, and don’t let any of this propaganda frighten you out of money that virtually all central banks across the globe consider “sound.” When the Fed’s inflationary goals are achieved, what else are you going to invest in--overvalued stocks, zero-to-negative-yielding bonds, riskier foreign currencies?
Gold is real money, and that's the God's honest truth!