Court Orders Defendants to Pay $3.6 Million for Refunds to Consumers
The operator of a bogus precious metals investment scheme that bilked millions of dollars from investors, including many senior citizens, is permanently banned from selling any investment opportunities under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
The settlement resolves FTC charges that Anthony J. Columbo and his companies, Premier Precious Metals Inc., Rushmore Consulting Group Inc., and PPM Credit Inc., conned consumers into buying precious metals on credit without clearly disclosing significant costs and risks, including the likelihood that consumers would subsequently have to pay more money or lose their investments.
In addition to banning the defendants from selling investment opportunities, the settlement order permanently prohibits them from 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 them to record all of their telemarketing calls for ten years.
The order imposes a judgment of more than $3.6 million against the defendants, 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 the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
For information about investing in precious metals, read the FTC’s Message sent, message received: Precious metal marketers agree to FTC settlement, Investing in Gold?, Investing in Bullion and Bullion Coins, and Investing in Collectible Coins.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the proposed stipulated order was 4-0. It was entered by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on February 25, 2014.
NOTE: Stipulated orders 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.
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