The problem with selling the apocalypse is that when it never happens, the sham is over. Such is the case of Goldline International, a company that has for the past few years stoked the fears of economic catastrophe in order to sell massive amounts of gold to everybody and their mothers. With a marketing strategy of paying conservative news commentators such as Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh to scare the crap out of people into buying gold coins, it shouldn’t be a major revelation that their business practices are as deceitful:
Goldline, a company that used endorsements from Glenn Beck and other conservative icons to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold to consumers, has been charged with theft and fraud in a 19-count criminal complaint filed Tuesday by local officials in California.
The criminal complaint filed Tuesday by the Santa Monica City Attorney’s consumer protection unit marks the latest in a series of allegations it has leveled against the gold dealer, which pioneered the practice of weaving its sales pitches into broadcasts by popular conservative political personalities — including two former presidential candidates — to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold every year.
The complaint alleges that Goldline “runs a bait and switch operation in which customers, seeking to invest in gold bullion, are switched to highly overpriced coins by using false and misleading claims,” according to a statement released by the consumer affairs division of the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office.
And of course, most of the victims of Goldline were just regular suburban dwellers who watched Fox News and listened to Rush Radio:
One of the customers was 63-year old Joe Kismartin of suburban Detroit. He says what he heard on TV about gold and the Goldline company made a lot of sense.
“They got the commercials on TV and the way the economy’s going I was figuring well, maybe I’ll just do it for a little bit, save it for inflation, you know, in case something happens to the economy, it bottoms out and I’ve got something to fall back on, gold, rather than money,” he said.
But Kismartin says he ended up losing almost half of the $5,000 he spent, because, he says, the Goldline salesman pressured him to buy overpriced gold coins, not the gold bullion he had seen in the commercials.
“I wanted to go bullion, I didn’t want coins,” he said. “I told the gentleman I don’t want coins. He said I got the deal here, the special deal, I got Swiss coins. He more or less talked me into buying the coins.”
When Kismartin took the coins to a local coin shop, he was told the $5,000 worth of gold coins he bought from Goldline five months earlier was worth just over $2,900, a loss of $2,100. “You know, I’m living month to month, that’s a big loss.”