Message sent, message received: Precious metal marketers agree to FTC settlement
As part of the Federal Trade Commission's ongoing efforts to stop scammers who target older people, the operator of a bogus precious metals telemarketing scheme that bilked millions of dollars from them is permanently banned from selling any investment opportunity under a settlement with the agency.
Using high-pressure sales tactics, Anthony J. Columbo and employees of his companies, Premier Precious Metals Inc., Rushmore Consulting Group Inc., and PPM Credit Inc., told consumers they were offering lucrative investments that were certain to earn significant profits with very little risk of loss. But what they often didn’t tell consumers was that their investments were leveraged: that is, the people were agreeing to buy the metals on credit. What’s more, the investments were typically not profitable and carried a high risk of loss. In fact, most customers — 94% — lost money. Fees and commissions at the start of their transactions, and the daily accumulation of additional fees and interest charges on the leveraged portion of their accounts, drained the equity in their investments. Many customers lost tens — and in some cases, hundreds — of thousands of dollars.