Springfield-area residents were among those statewide who allegedly were defrauded in a precious metals scheme, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s Securities Division announced on Tuesday.
At least 18 investors from Missouri, including the Springfield, Kansas City and St. Louis areas, were defrauded to the tune of $1.7 million, Ashcroft's office alleges in a news release. Missouri is participating in a consolidated enforcement action designed to stop an alleged $68 million fraudulent precious metals scheme that's defrauded at least 450 investors nationwide to date.
In the Springfield area, a Queen City resident invested nearly $50,000, and a Marionville resident invested nearly $30,000, according to a spokesperson from Ashcroft's office.
The complaint originates in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Safeguard Metals LLC and Jeffrey Santulan, aka Jeffrey Hill. The defendants allegedly marketed precious metals investments to investors at grossly inflated prices.
“Missouri has and will continue to work with our partners in state and federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies to pursue anyone whose unlawful actions harm the integrity of the financial industry or harm unsuspecting investors,” Ashcroft said in the release. “This is one of several large-scale precious metals investment schemes we’ve strived to stop since the pandemic began.”
The defendants allegedly failed to disclose to investors the markups charged on the precious metals and the risks in investing in the products. Additionally, the defendants are accused of targeting a vulnerable population of older adults with little experience investing in precious metals.
Restitution is among damages sought by prosecutors, according to the release.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May the all-items inflation index surged 8.6% over the past year, the highest increase since 1981.