MN Commerce Dept. warns against precious metals investment scams


(6/12/2019)

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is warning Minnesotans about an investment scheme from Metals.com, an unregistered California-based precious metals company. Company representatives are cold-calling elderly residents across the nation to convince them that their money is not safe with registered brokers and investment advisers and should be moved into precious metal investments.

The state of Texas issued an emergency cease and desist order against TMTE, Inc.; METALS.COM; CHASE METALS, LLC; and CHASE METALS, INC., on May 1, 2019. According to the order, representatives of Metals.com were targeting older adults and advising them to sell their securities and invest in precious metals through a self-directed IRA. The company has been reported for using scare tactics and threats. One of the victims, an 80-year-old Dallas woman, liquidated $850,000 in retirement funds and invested with the company. According to the order, the woman was unaware that Metals.com was moving her money into a self-directed IRA.

Metals.com is not currently licensed as a bullion products dealer or investment advisor in the state of Minnesota and, as such, the Department of Commerce issued a cease and desist order on May 16, 2019, to prevent Metals.com from making any transactions involving bullion products or investments in Minnesota.

As the state’s consumer protection agency, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is committed to empowering older adults and their families to protect themselves against financial fraud.

“Upon learning of the nation-wide scheme, Commerce investigators acted quickly to issue a cease-and-desist order against the company,” said Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley. “Nevertheless, Minnesotans must remain vigilant. These financial schemes exploit vulnerable seniors because they are friendly, trusting and more likely to have accessible funds.”

Commerce offers the following tips for Minnesotans to protect themselves against financial exploitation:

• Challenge fear tactics. Scammers exploit fears of a big economic downturn and claim their product will provide financial protection. Do not let fear distract you from making a sound decision.

• Do not fall for a sales pitch that creates a false sense of urgency. You should always take time to make an informed decision.

• Avoid investments that are pitched as having no risk or offering unrealistic returns. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

• Stay in control. When investing, be wary of anyone who suggests putting your money in something you do not understand or anyone who urges you to leave everything in his or her hands.

• As with any investment decision, ask questions and understand the risks involved. Carefully research the investment and read any recent reports that the company has filed with the SEC.

• Check with the Commerce Department to see if the bullion products dealer or the investment advisor is registered to do business in Minnesota.

If you believe you may have been the victim of a scam or fraud, contact the Commerce Department’s Consumer Services Center by email at consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-539-1600

 

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