The price of gold has risen steadily in the past few months. In times of financial turmoil, precious metals such as gold make appealing options to investors who seek a reliable return. However, just as the price of gold has climbed, so has the rate of scams involving it.

Whether you are considering purchasing gold or you already own a significant amount, you must remain vigilant to financial scams. Here, we will examine some of the most common gold-related scams currently making the rounds.

Scams to watch out for this year

Insider trading happens when a person makes a trade based on information that is not available to the public. Trading can be based on an event that is likely to either increase or decrease the price of a company’s stock. For example, a better than expected quarterly performance would likely make stock options more valuable. Trading on this type of information before it’s made public provides investors and brokers with an unfair advantage. That’s why it’s important to take steps to level the playing field.

The rewards are small for a big risk

People who engage in insider trading often suffer from a type of tunnel vision. When a broker makes trades in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year, an insider trade involving a few thousand dollars doesn’t seem like a big deal. Years ago, lifestyle guru Martha Stewart was convicted of insider trading. The illegal trading amounted to $45,000. Peanuts for someone with a net worth in the millions. Nonetheless, she still had to pay significant fines and serve a prison term.

For ages, gold has been a safe investment for the uninitiated or market-wary. The stability of gold and other precious metals make them an accessible investment with little influence from volatile markets.

The accessibility of precious metals, however, makes them an easy vessel for would-be scammers and fraudulent brokers to take advantage of unseasoned investors. In many cases, alertness and skepticism can mean the difference between making a solid investment and making a stolen investment.

If a prospective broker attempts to entice you into buying gold, silver, platinum or palladium with any of the following tactics, consider your next moves carefully.

Your broker earns a commission or collects a fee every time they trade a stock. This can tempt some unethical brokers to engage in “churning.” Churning happens when a broker makes several small trades to help them earn extra income from commissions and fees. Churning is solely for the benefit of the broker. It does nothing to help your investments. It can even lead to you losing your hard-earned money.

That said, it’s the job of your broker to make trades. Depending on the type of investments you have, making a high-volume of trades may even be advantageous. However, you should still take note of signs of churning. Recognizing the warning signs can let you know whether you’re being taken advantage of or whether your broker is operating above board.

Times when you should be skeptical

On September 19 2019, William C. Conway, Jr., originally of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Steven Schrag, originally of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, had a final judgment entered against them, jointly and severally, in the total amount of $771,350 for fraud and deceit in the case styled Michael Conville, Joseph Gilmore and Beacon Construction Group, Inc. v. William C. Conway, Jr. , Steve Schrag et al, Case No. 12-33381, filed in the Circuit Court of Broward County, Florida.

The final judgment was based upon a unanimous jury verdict which found Willian C. Conway, Jr. and Steven Schrag, among other defendants, guilty of fraud in the inducement, negligent misrepresentation in the inducement and conspiracy to defraud.  The judgment was predicated upon an alleged gold (precious metals scam) which originated in Africa.

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Read Your Margin Agreement:

As with any type of business transaction that you are contemplating, it is important for you to read and understand fully all of the terms and conditions of any type of margin or, for that matter, loan agreement which you are considering.  The explanation of the account executive of the terms, risks and rewards of what is contained in the margin agreement is superseded by the document itself.  Moreover, the agreement will refer the reader to other rules and regulations that are incorporate, by reference, into the document.  These rules and regulations are of equal force with the terms of the margin agreement.

It is for these reasons that a customer is required to sign the margin agreement to open a margin account.  The agreement may be part of your account opening agreement or may be a separate agreement. The margin agreement states that you must abide by the rules of the Federal Reserve Board, the New York Stock Exchange, the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc., and the firm where you have set up your margin account.

Understanding Margin –

Margin is borrowing money from your broker to buy a security and using your investment as collateral. Investors generally use margin to increase their purchasing power so that they can own more securities without fully paying for it.  The amount owed to the broker is called the debit balance.  Through the use of leverage, investors attempt to magnify gains on actual cash or collateral deposited into their accounts.  But at the same time, the use oft margin exposes investors to the potential for higher losses.  Another reason for borrowing money from brokers is the feature involving a no-repayment-date loan.  This feature is generally not available through other types of lending institutions, including banks.  The no-repayment feature, although very attractive, can be fraught with danger.  The investor should be made aware that if the value of securities on deposit with the broker declines substantially, the broker will require additional funds or collateral to protect the loan.

There are 2 primary types of margin requirements: initial and maintenance.

To answer the above question, the reader should first review Florida Statute 48.193, which is titled “Acts subjecting persons to jurisdiction of the Courts of this state.”  The elements required for pleading a civil conspiracy in Florida are (1) a conspiracy between two or more parties, (2) to do an unlawful act or to do a lawful act by unlawful means, (3) the doing of some overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy, and (4) damage to the plaintiff as a result of the acts, performed in furtherance of the conspiracy. Under Florida law, civil conspiracy is a derivative of the underlying claims which form the basis of the conspiracy. The gist of a civil conspiracy is not the conspiracy itself but the civil wrong which is done through the conspiracy which results in injury to the Plaintiff. There is no independent action for civil conspiracy. Thus, generally an actionable conspiracy requires an actionable underlying tort or wrong. An act which does not constitute a basis for a cause of action against one person cannot be made the basis for a civil action for conspiracy. However, there is an exception to the rule where the plaintiff can show some peculiar power of coercion posses by the conspirators by virtue of their combination, which power an individual would not possess.

For purposes of this discussion, we will assume that the elements set forth above to allege a civil conspiracy exist.  A series of Florida cases have found personal jurisdiction over non-resident defendants engaged in conspiracies that include tortious or statutorily-prohibited actions as against Florida residents.  For example, telephonic, electronic or written communications into Florida, by a non-resident, may form the basis for personal jurisdiction if the alleged cause of action arises from the communications.  In addressing allegations that a non-resident defendant committed a tort in Florida though acts and communications directed into the state from outside of Florida, the appropriate inquiry is whether the tort as alleged occurred in Florida and not whether the alleged tort actually occurred.

As can be seen from the above discussion, it is important to examine all of the facts underlying the cause of action alleged as to each defendant.  When dealing with a non-resident defendant, it is especially important to allege, in the complaint, all of the specific acts, of the non-resident defendant, that were committed in furtherance of the conspiracy so that the court may properly determine the issue of jurisdiction.

If You Are A Florida Resident And You Want To Bring A Claim Against A Non-Resident, What Acts Would Subject The Non-Resident To The Jurisdiction Of The Florida Court System? South and Central Florida Commercial Litigation Attorney.

In certain circumstances, the answer to this question is easy to discern.  One need look no further than the provisions of Florida Statute § 48.193.  It is for that reason that we have set forth the provisions of the statue in its current entirety below.  The provisions of the statute are clear.  If a non-resident does certain enumerated things in Florida, Florida courts have jurisdiction to hear your claim.  However, many times, because of the unique facts of your case, it might not be that easy to determine whether Florida is the correct jurisdiction. As a result of this many non-resident defendants contest the issue of jurisdiction, the cases that deal with the provisions and legal interpretations of the statute are voluminous.  Thus, if you want to make a claim against a non-resident, the specific facts of your case should be analyzed by a qualified professional so that the pros and cons of making a claim in Florida can be discussed with you so that you can make a informed decision as to where you might want to bring your action.

48.193 Acts subjecting person to jurisdiction of courts of state.—

The Florida Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act – How Can the Act Help You in Collecting on Your Judgment – South and Central Florida Judgment (Including Out-of-State Judgments) Collection Attorney.

The Florida Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (“FUFTA”) is contained in Florida Statute §§ 726.101 – 201  FUFTA  provides creditors (judgment holders) with various forms of relief to avoid a debtor’s (defendant’s) fraudulent transfer of assets or funds.  A creditor (a plaintiff) may avoid a debtor’s transfer where the creditor shows that the transfer was made with actual intent to hinder, delay, or defraud.  To that end, FUFTA provides a non-exhaustive litany of factors – referred to as “badges of fraud” – to consider when determining whether a debtor’s transfer is fraudulent as to the creditor:

  1.   The transfer or obligation was to an insider.
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