The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that it has reached a settlement with a “bogus precious metals investment scheme” that took millions of dollars from investors, including many senior citizens.
The settlement resolves FTC charges that Anthony J. Columbo and his companies, Premier Precious Metals, Rushmore Consulting Group, and PPM Credit, pushed consumers into buying precious metals on credit — without clearly disclosing significant costs and risks, the FTC said.
Those costs and risks include the likelihood that consumers would subsequently have to pay more money or lose their investments, the federal agency said.
The operators are permanently banned from selling any investment opportunities under the settlement.
The FTC’s order imposes a judgment of more than $3.6 million against the operators of the scheme, which will be partially suspended after Columbo relinquishes to the FTC assets estimated to be worth about $3 million, including Florida real estate, personal property, and bank and investment accounts.
The full judgment will become due immediately if Columbo and other defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
Columbo and his companies are also permanently prohibited from the following:
- misrepresenting material facts about any products and services,
- violating the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule,
- failing to provide consumer information to the FTC so it can administer consumer redress,
- selling or otherwise benefitting from consumers’ personal information, and
- failing to properly dispose of customer information.
The order also requires Columbo and his companies to record all of their telemarketing calls for ten years.