KABOOM! CFTC/FTC Cases Against American Precious Metals LLC Were Part Of Broader Effort By New Task Force Operating In South Florida; Feds, State Throw Down Gauntlet Against Scammers

Kaboom! It turns out that the cases announced this week against American Precious Metals LLC (APM)  by the CFTC and FTC were part of a geographically localized law-enforcement initiative that sprouted from “Operation Broken Trust,” a major national initiative undertaken last year by the U.S. Department of Justice and partner agencies as part of the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

The localized initiative that led to both the CFTC and FTC bringing actions against APM is known as the South Florida Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative. It was created in December 2010 by U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer, the top federal prosecutor in the Miami region.

The CFTC accused APM of running a precious-metals scam. Meanwhile, the FTC opened up a second legal front by charging the company with operating a telemarketing fraud scheme from a boiler room. The effect of the approach is that APM, which both agencies accused of running frauds that had gathered tens of millions of dollars, now has to square off against litigation coming from two different directions.

Ferrer has warned for months that white-collar fraudsters operating in the region had no safe haven either onshore or offshore.

In addition to Ferrer’s office, the CFTC and FTC, members of the South Florida Task Force include the FBI, the IRS, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the SEC, the FDIC, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation and ICE Homeland Investigations.

ICE is a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“Investors lose billions of dollars annually to fraudulent schemes,” Ferrer said in December, when introducing the new task force. “Some victims — the luckier ones — lose only thousands of dollars. Others lose their entire lives’ savings. While the victims of fraud are financially ruined, the fraudsters live a life of luxury. Together with our law enforcement and regulatory partners, we hope to help put an end to this type of fraud.”

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