Arkansas Securities Department helps stop $68 million precious metals scheme
Arkansas Securities Department partners with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and 26 state securities regulators to stop a $68 million precious metals scheme.
Little Rock, Arkansas (February 1, 2022) – A handful of Arkansas investors were defrauded out of more than $2 million in a precious metals scheme.
Arkansas Securities Commissioner Eric P. Munson announced today that the Arkansas Securities Department (ASD) is participating in a consolidated nationwide enforcement action to stop a fraudulent precious metals scheme that solicited more than $68 million from at least 450 investors nationwide. The ASD joined the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and 26 other states in filing a Complaint in the United States District Court for the Central District of California alleging Safeguard Metals, LLC and Jeffrey Santulan, AKA Jeffrey Hill, solicited millions from investors across the United States by touting precious metals at grossly inflated prices that were not disclosed.
“The Defendants failed to disclose that almost every investor lost a significant amount of their funds in the precious metals the firm was offering,” Munson said. “Arkansas investors suffered deep losses, often from savings and retirement accounts, after relying on false promises made by Safeguard’s sales representatives. To prevent any further damages, Arkansans are advised to be particularly cautious when purchasing precious metals and to check for outrageously high commissions, spreads or markups as high as 30 to 70 percent.
“In expectation of additional precious metals investment schemes, investors are advised to check the registration of all investment products and professionals, diligently research investments, ask tough questions about the fees, markups or spreads, risks and potential returns,” Munson said. “If the answers seem too good to be true or don’t make sense, protect your wallet by just walking away.”
The investors in this case were advised to liquidate their holdings at registered investment firms to fund investments in precious metals, bullion, and bullion coins through self-directed individual retirement accounts. Self-directed IRAs should not be confused with traditional IRAs or other retirement vehicles. Self-directed accounts are placed with a custodian but do not afford the investor any protections nor provide a review of the holdings or any valuations of the holdings in the account.
The defendants are accused of failing to disclose the markup charge for their precious metals bullion products and that investors could lose the majority of their funds once a transaction was completed. In many cases, the market value of the precious metals sold to investors was substantially lower than the value of the securities and other retirement savings investors liquidated to fund their purchase. In Arkansas, at least half a dozen investors were defrauded out of more than $2 million in the execution of this national scheme. Many Arkansas investors liquidated their existing retirement accounts, which contained securities, to obtain funds to purchase the metals.
Investors are encouraged to contact the Arkansas Securities Department with questions about any investment opportunity or the persons offering it for sale before investing in the product. Contact 1-800-981-4429 to report suspected fraud, inappropriate securities business practices or to obtain consumer information. Safeguard Metals LLC investors are encouraged to call the Arkansas Securities Department.
The ASD cautions citizen investors of all ages and experiences to thoroughly scrutinize and research any investment opportunity or offer. Contact the ASD at 1-800-981-4429 to check out any person or financial professional offering an investment opportunity or investment advice for a fee and the products they offer for proper registration. Contact the ASD to report suspected fraud, inappropriate securities business practices, or to obtain consumer information. The ASD provides free investor education and fraud prevention materials in print and through educational presentations upon request.
Public Information Coordinator