The Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement banning the operator of a bogus precious metals investment scheme from selling opportunities to consumers in the future and ordering the company to repay millions to consumers.
The settlement resolves charges that Anthony J. Columbo and his companies, Premier Precious Metals, Inc., Rushmore Consulting Group Inc., and PPM Credit Inc., conned millions of dollars from investors, including many senior citizens, by selling precious metals on credit without clearly disclosing costs and risks.
The scammers allegedly promised consumers they could earn large profits quickly and safely by investing in precious metals. Using high-pressure sales tactics, telemarketers told consumers they were offering lucrative investments that were certain to earn consumers significant profits, with very little risk of loss. In reality, the leveraged investments were typically not profitable and carried a high risk of loss.
Under the settlement the defendants will pay $3.6 million, which will be partially suspended after Columbo relinquishes to the FTC assets, including Florida real estate, personal property and bank and investment account, estimated to be worth $3 million.
Additionally, the companies are permanently banned from selling investment opportunities, misrepresenting material facts, violating the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, failing to provide consumer information to the FTC, selling or otherwise benefiting from consumers’ personal information and failing to properly dispose of customer information.
The company is also required to record all telemarketing calls for ten years.
FTC Settlement Bans Precious Metal Marketers from Selling Investment Opportunities [Federal Trade Commission]