PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation has reached a settlement with a company and its owner who are accused of targeting the elderly in a $68 million fraud scheme.
Oregon officials first announced the federal lawsuit against Safeguard Metals LLC and owner Jeffrey Ikahn when it was filed in February of last year. DFR partnered with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and agencies from 29 other states that were affected by the alleged scheme, to file the lawsuit.
The financial regulators say Safeguard and Ikahn used misleading statements to swindle more than 450 clients in the U.S. into buying precious metals from October 2017 to July 2021. According to DFR, the company misrepresented its credentials, as well as the risk and safety of the clients’ investments into their retirement accounts.
The agency additionally reported that Safeguard charged customers an average markup of 51% to 71%, despite previous customer agreements that said “operating margins” were anywhere from 23% to 42%.
“Safeguard Metals engaged in fraudulent and deceptive practices to solicit millions of dollars primarily from elderly and retirement-aged individuals for profit,” DFR Administrator TK Keen said in a statement. “As a result, customers suffered substantial losses on their retirement investments.”
Overall, the consent order says more than 97% of the company’s sales came from inexperienced investors. In Oregon, authorities identified 11 customers who invested $2.3 million into the ‘overpriced’ silver coins.
Safeguard and Ikahn have agreed to a permanent injunction that prohibits them from violating numerous federal and state laws, such as those that ban commodities fraud and giving unlicensed investment advice.
The owner has also agreed to an order restricting him from any role as an investment adviser, broker-dealer or commodity adviser in Oregon. Along with the Oregon ban, Ikahn has been prohibited from the securities industry in other states and is under a federal commodity trading ban.
“This settlement reflects the work DFR continues to do to hold bad actors in the precious metals industry accountable to consumers,” Keen added.
Safeguard and Ikahn will be ordered to pay penalties and restitution to customers. DFR says the defendants have neither confessed to nor denied the findings from the case.
Both defendants will settle a federal lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission as well.