Beck-backed gold fraud?

A worker at Goldline, hack pundits' favorite precious metal seller, says it scammed its most vulnerable consumers

Topics: Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, gold, scam, Consumer Fraud,

Beck-backed gold fraud? (Credit: discpicture,s_bukley, via Shutterstock/Salon)

If you’ve ever listened to conservative talk radio, you’ve probably heard of Goldline, the precious metal seller endorsed by Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and others. But critics allege that Goldline is misleading its consumers, much like the talkers they sponsor.

The company’s business model was built on systemically swindling and scaring its mostly elderly clientele into purchasing overpriced gold coins, prosecutors in California alleged, leading the company to settle for $4.5 million in refunds to its customer. The city attorney in Santa Monica, where the company is based, brought 19 criminal fraud charges against the company that were later dropped, but a Los Angeles judge last year instructed the company to foot the bill for a court-appointed monitor, who was tasked with ensuring the company revealed its price markups and stopped misleading consumers.

But now, the company’s former compliance officer is saying she was fired for complaining to her bosses that she was being prevented from speaking with the monitor, Courthouse News Service reported yesterday. Carol Taylor Gabrelow, who is suing Goldline in L.A. for wrongful termination, says her bosses were afraid she would spill the beans to the monitor about her company’s shady tactics. Her complaint alleges:

“Goldline specifically targets vulnerable consumers with sales tactics designed to pressure those consumers into buying products that would often result in the consumer losing over one-third of his or her investment the instant the purchase is made meaning that, even when the price of the precious metals increases, because these consumers were deceived into purchasing coins with mark-ups exceeding 50 percent, it could be years, if ever, before the consumer recoups, much less makes any profit on, the investment.”

You Might Also Like

One of Goldline’s biggest foes was former congressman Anthony Weiner, who launched a congressional investigation into the company after getting complaints from his constituents about shady business dealings. According to Gabrelow’s complaint, company executives temporarily “discouraged account executives from engaging in some of the illegal conduct” during Weiner’s investigation, but as soon as it was over, they went back to their old ways.

Yuri Becklemen, who worked on the investigation in Weiner’s office, told Salon that he found evidence that executives regularly pressured employees to skirt ethical concerns. “We spoke to numerous former employees who were conflicted with the tactics being used,” he said. “However, management set the system up to only reward those that were able to push those concerns aside. One employee told me that if he didn’t upsell customers to semi-collectible coins from regular bullion, his commission check wouldn’t be enough to afford a sandwich.”

Coins are often not an ideal investment because they’re more difficult to sell. But Goldine makes a much bigger profit margin on them, so they often tricked or pressured customers into purchasing coins instead of investment-grade bullion, critics allege.

Gabrelow, who as head of compliance oversaw 28 employees, says she was first demoted to a job with no substantive responsibilities or subordinates before being terminated. Her complaint alleges that the company fired her entire finance department along with her, including her husband, who is also a plaintiff on the suit.

Beck and the other conservative talkers never split from Goldine, despite the legal issues. An ad for the company appears on his website today, which leads you to this endorsement: “Before I started turning you on to Goldline, I wanted to look them in the eye. This is a top notch organization that’s been in business since 1960.”

“Goldline now is the only gold company I personally recommend to you,” Sean Hannity says. “My choice for buying gold is Goldline,” conservative radio host Mark Levin says.

Goldline denies defrauding its customers and never admitted guilt in its settlement with Santa Monica prosecutors. “We are committed to transparent, honest and responsible pricing … no gimmicks,” the company says on its website.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>