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Telemarketers behind an allegedly fraudulent investment scheme used to con nearly $5 million from elderly consumers have been banned from selling precious metals under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

The settlement resolves FTC charges against Sterling Precious Metals LLC, Matthew Meyer and Francis Ryan Zofay for promising consumers they could profit by investing in precious metals with little risk of loss, without telling them they probably would have to pay more money later or lose their investment.

In addition to banning the defendants from selling precious metals, the settlement order permanently prohibits them from misrepresenting material facts about any products and services, selling or otherwise benefitting from consumers’ personal information, failing to properly dispose of customer information, and failing to provide consumer information to the FTC so it can administer consumer redress.  The order also requires them to record all of their telemarketing calls for seven years.

The order imposes a judgment of more than $4.7 million against Meyer and Zofay, which will be partially suspended based on their ability to pay and the surrender of Meyer’s leased cars, a 2013 Bentley Continental and a 2012 Land Rover.  The full judgment will become due immediately if they are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.  The Commission will also seek to dismiss Kerry Marshall as a defendant.

For consumers considering investing in precious metals, the FTC offers advice, including Investing in GoldInvesting in Bullion and Bullion Coins, and Investing in Collectible Coins.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the proposed consent judgment and amended complaint was 4-0.  The consent judgment was entered by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on August 22, 2013.

NOTE:  Consent judgments have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.  To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Contact Information

Frank Dorman
Office of Public Affairs
Dama Brown
FTC's Southeast Region