The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee recently announced that a federal jury found Larry Bates; his two sons, Chuck and Robert Bates; and Kinsey Bates, the wife of Robert Bates, guilty on all counts set forth in an indictment that charged mail and wire fraud and conspiracy.
According to the news release, the charges rose out of the defendants running a decade-long Ponzi scheme in the buying and selling of gold and silver coins through First American Monetary Consultants, a Colorado corporation with offices in Fort Collins and Memphis, Tennessee. The release stated that more than three hundred sixty victims lost more than twenty-one million dollars due to the defendants’ illegal scheme, which lasted from 2002-2013.
During this same time, Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming reported on the company and processed multiple complaints from consumers. According to the disputes filed with BBB, complainants stated that after purchasing gold or silver coins from the company, they were told they would receive the coins within 45 days. Some complainants stated they received partial shipments of their coin purchases while others stated they received nothing. Many of the complaints sent to the business went unanswered.
Because of the pattern of complaints identified, BBB began working with the U.S. Postal Inspector and Federal Bureau of Investigation and shared copies of consumer complaints. This helped lead to an indictment and BBB staff participation in serving as a witness for the U.S. Attorney’s office at the trial in April.
“Our partnerships with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are critical in helping advance BBB’s mission, part of which is calling out and addressing substandard marketplace behavior”, says Pam King, President and CEO for BBB Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming. Although much of our work involves highlighting positive business role models in the community, it’s equally important that we help expose and stop bad actors in the marketplace”.
BBB’s investigations program is one of many core services that BBB provides to the public. In addition to looking into and reporting on substandard marketplace behavior, BBB’s investigations team publishes scam submissions via BBB Scam Tracker and leads a quarterly roundtable comprised of law enforcement and regulatory agencies in Colorado and Wyoming.
“We rely on the public to bring concerns to our attention and we encourage people to report problems they have encountered either by filing a complaint or submitting a customer review”, says King. “Without the customers of First American Monetary Consultants coming forward with their complaints, it would have been difficult for us to know about the company’s business practices.”
Consumers can file complaints, submit customer reviews or report scams directly to BBB by visiting bbb.org or calling 800-564-0371.