The Gold Ponzi Scam

TV and radio commercials shout that “Gold will save you when the economy turns.” A well-dressed pitchman says if you don’t put your 401k money in gold coins you’ll be the loser. 

California had a gold rush in 1849, but there’s no one stopping today’s gold rush scammers and crooks.Four of my viewers tell me that the salesperson with the TV gold company simply lied to them and took their money—and sent them no gold.  

They call it the “Gold Ponzi Scheme.” The salesperson, who is sometimes a radio or TV personality, talks you into rolling over some or all of your 401k or IRA in to gold coins. They take all the money and commissions upfront and supposedly send the gold coins or bullion to a trust company that files the documents for the 401k or IRA rollover. But they take their commissions and profits out first. Then you learn that the trust company’s depository never got the gold coins. When you call to find out what happened to the gold, they don’t take your phone calls. After they have your money you are not very important.

You report this as a crime to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and they tell you they do not deal in this type of crime. You are on your own. You discover that the only legal avenue available is arbitration which is expensive. A year goes by and your trust company still does not have the gold and you will lose your IRA or 401k benefits in a rollover.

One of my viewers named Steve says he waited more than a year for his purchases of gold coins. Since he was rolling over the money from his IRA he missed his one-year deadline. His $19,000 dollars worth of gold was never delivered so he had to pay an IRS penalty and taxes on the rollover. Steve spoke out on my TV Trouble-Shooter Talk Show. He asked me to call the company for him. After I made that phone call to the gold company and the FBI, Steve got a call from the president of the gold company. He said they would deliver his gold right away and not to talk to me anymore. He got his gold but it appraised for only half what they had told him it was worth.

Another victim who spoke out on my show about the same gold coin scam is Rick Fairburn. Rick is an independent business man in Southern California who was also taken in by the TV ads, and he did not get his gold coins until I started calling the gold company in Santa Monica, Ca. He said the coins were promised in 30 to 40 days. Rick told me the salesperson would not return his phone calls.  Rich said, “I was a foolish consumer; I paid them upfront and did not get an itemized list of the purchase.” He said after they had his money they told him I had to sign a contract that said I could not sue them or I would not get the gold or my money back.

I called the gold company twice. Rick then got his $16,000 in gold coins. He says he got trash gold coins and they only appraised at about $8,000. So, he lost half of his investment, and during the time he was trying to get the coins he also lost the increased value of gold. Rick calls it a “total gold scam rip-off.”

Bruce and Lois, who were on my Internet TV Show, say they lost more than $300,000 if you include legal costs and increased gold value during the time they did not get the gold. They rolled over about $210,000 from their IRA. The retired couples paid upfront for the gold and were promised it would arrive in about 30 days. It took more than one year and they had to take the gold company to legal arbitration and fight for the gold or their money back. They are also angry at the TV and radio stations that carried the gold commercials without vetting them.

All these victims would have not lost so much money and gone afoul of the 401k and IRA rules if they had just talked with a gold expert.

Joel D. Rettew of Mission Viejo, Ca. ( is a gold expert and testified at the retired couple’s arbitration. Rettew’s advice:

  • Check the sales license of the gold seller
  • Federal law says all sale items must be delivered in 30 days. Put this in your sales contract.
  • Pay a deposit, not the full amount, before the gold arrives
  • Insist on an itemized list and an appraisal from an expert
  • Buy a small amount like $5,000 at first and see what you get.