Wisconsin, 29 other states file complaint against companies accused of scamming investors out of $185M in precious metals scheme

Gold Bars

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin is joining 29 other states in an effort to stop a fraudulent precious metals scheme that has solicited $185 million from at least 1,600 seniors an investors nationwide.

The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions and the Wisconsin Department of Justice announced Wednesday that Wisconsin will be one of 30 states filing a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas alleging that Metals.com and Barrick Capital Inc. solicited millions of dollars by selling precious metals at inflated prices that were not disclosed.

At least 16 Wisconsin residents have been identified as victims of the scheme. Combined, they invested approximately $2.7 million. Many of them lost substantial amounts of their retirement savings, according to a news release.

“The defendants had a reckless disregard for the truth by failing to disclose that virtually every investor lost the majority of their funds in the investments the firm was peddling,” DFI Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld said. “They capitalized on investor fear of market instability and economic uncertainty. Investors suffered substantial losses from retirement savings by relying on the false representations made by the defendants and their sales representatives.”

The complaint names California-based companies TMTE Inc., also known as Metals.com, Chase Metals Inc., Chase Metals LLC, Barrick Capital Inc., and Simon Batashvili, Lucas Asher and Tower Equity LLC as defendants. They’re accused of using television, radio and social media ads to “instill fear in elderly and retirement-aged investors and build trust with investors based on representations of political or religious affinity.”

According to a news release, the defendants are accused of charging investors prices for gold or silver bullion that averaged between 100% and 300% more than the actual melt price.