BULLETIN: FLORIDA — AGAIN: FTC Says ‘High-Pressure’ Telemarketers Conned Seniors In ‘Precious Metals’ Boondoggle; Federal Judge Issues Asset Freeze, Appoints Receiver

BULLETIN: A federal judge has frozen the assets of three Florida companies and their operator, after the Federal Trade Commission alleged a “precious metals” telemarketing scam aimed at senior citizens was under way and had collected nearly $9 million.

Named defendants in the case were Anthony J. Columbo, Premier Precious Metals Inc., Rushmore Consulting Group Inc. and PPM Credit Inc., all of Deerfield Beach.

Customers got trapped in a boondoggle in which they were lured into buying precious metals on credit while their capital was eaten away by undisclosed or misrepresented fees. In some cases, the only way out of the thicket was to pay more money “or lose their investment,” the FTC charged.

“High-pressure” pitchmen picked the pockets of customers, the FTC charged.

“The majority of consumers who purchase precious metals from Defendants lose money,” the FTC charged. “Consumers’ equity in their precious metals investments is drained by the fees and commissions that are assessed at the inception of their transactions and by the constant accumulation of service fees and interest charges on the leverage portion of their accounts.

“These fees, commissions, and interest charges negatively affect consumers’ ability to break even or profit on the precious metals investments,” the FTC continued. “When a consumer’s equity decreases sufficiently, an equity call is issued and the consumer must either invest additional money or allow the precious metals to be liquidated at a loss, making the investments risky. In some instances, consumers’ accounts are liquidated without notice to consumers.”

Assisting in the FTC probe were the Better Business Bureau of Southeast Florida and the Caribbean, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, the State of Florida Office of the Attorney General, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, the FTC said.

Read the FTC complaint.

Read the Temporary Restraining Order, originally filed under seal.

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