Metals.com, a firm accused of convincing older Texans to liquidate securities held with registered investment firms and use the proceeds to buy precious metals, has agreed to offer a full refund to 84 Texas investors.
The amount of refunds will be made public once all investors have had the chance to get their money back. The State Securities Board expects the total of the rescission offer to exceed $10 million.
The rescission offer is part of an Order Securities Commissioner Travis J. Iles entered July 1.
Two months ago, Commissioner Iles entered an Emergency Cease and Desist Order against Metals.com, its vice president for sales, a senior portfolio manager, and a saleswoman.
According to the May 1 emergency action, Metals.com representatives cold-called potential investors and advised them that their money isn’t safe at registered brokers and investment advisers and they should move their funds into precious metals investments.
May 1 Emergency Cease and Desist Order entered against Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Metals.com, two senior executives, and a saleswoman
May 7 Securities Commissioner denies the May 6 request by Metals.com to stay the emergency order
May 14 State Office of Administrative Hearings sets Aug. 28-29 to hear Metals.com’s challenge to the order
July 1 Metals.com agrees to Order with rescission offer to 84 Texas investors and to strengthen company compliance and training
Metals.com was soliciting individuals mostly between 65 and 90 years old, according to evidence secured by the Enforcement Division of the State Securities Board.
According to the emergency order, Metals.com convinced an 80-year-old Dallas woman to liquidate $850,000 in her retirement accounts and transfer the money to invest in precious metals in a self-directed Individual Retirement Account.
The woman is among the Texas investors who will be offered a full refund. She came to the State Securities Board’s attention through a report of suspected financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, defined in state law as a person 65 or older or having a cognitive disability.
The report was filed by a registered firm where a woman was a client. The firm said it believed the woman did not understand the investment opportunity Metals.com presented to her.
Metals.com’s sales pitch focuses on the supposed stability of precious metals as an investment compared with stocks and bonds. Its sales representatives claim that precious metals will hold their value even when the stock market sharply declines.
The emergency action alleged that the Metals.com executives and employees named in the order acted as unregistered investment adviser representatives because they were compensated for advice related to investing in or selling stocks, bonds, and other securities.
According to the emergency order, Metals.com and its salespersons advised potential clients to sell securities held at registered firms and invest in precious metals through a self-directed Individual Retirement Account.
In the new order, the Securities Commissioner found that the company provided investment advice.
The rescission offer requires Metals.com to offer a full refund of the initial money invested, not the current value of an investor’s holdings.
The distinction is important. According to the initial emergency order, investors were paying a spread between the retail and wholesale price of the metals. That spread was allegedly as high as 33% for transactions involving individual retirement accounts, meaning the value of an investor's initial account could be cut by one-third.