A precious metals scam ripped off silver buyers to the tune of $113 million

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has settled a precious metals fraud case against two companies and their owner, Robert Higgins, who were accused of running a scam of nearly of $113 million. The charges involving Delaware-based First State Depository Company (FSD), which claimed to be “private depository” that would store customer metals, and Argent Asset Group, which was engaged in the business of buying, selling, and leasing precious metals, were first filed in September 2022.

FSD was supposed to hold thousands of gold and silver coins, but the CFTC found instead that the boxes belonging to various customers’ accounts were empty but for “IOU” slips. On top of that, the agency also discovered “active efforts to conceal misappropriation by sending fake account statements...and offering false and misleading excuses for why assets could not be withdrawn,” the CFTC wrote in a statement announcing the settlement on July 3.

The settlement includes an agreement to fully pay back defrauded customers and pay an additional $33 million in civil monetary penalty. Plus, Higgins and his companies face permanent trading and registration bans.