Judge may order mediation in coin company fraud case

David Yates Jun. 13, 2007, 7:00am

Jason Gibson

Mediation may be ordered in a case alleging that a local rare coin dealer ripped off elderly investors.

Judge Donald Floyd will entertain a Motion to Compel Mediation in the case of Stephen Dinneen et al vs. United States Rare Coin & Bullion Reserve, Inc. et al, at a hearing slated for Friday, June 15, inside the 172nd Judicial District Court.

The plaintiffs' original petition was filed with the Jefferson County District Court on May 2.

The list of plaintiffs includes Dinneen Kurt Kumetat, Roland Smith, Joseph Tice and Harold Tice as representatives of the estates of Harold Tice and Robert and Shirley Weitzel.

The suit names USRCBR, U.S. Money Reserve, Capitol Mint, Providence Rare Coins, U.S. Vault Collection, Annette Renaud, Milton Verrett and Tony Califa as defendants.

According to the suit, "the plaintiffs collectively were convinced by defendants' false, misleading and high-pressure sales tactics to purchase $420,000 in 'rare' gold, platinum and silver coins.

"Specifically, defendants intentionally and knowingly made various false and misleading representations to plaintiffs, in an attempt to increase their monetary investment in defendants' 'rare' coins," the suit said. "Defendants' 'boiler-room' sales and telemarketing operation used a company-wide scheme that encouraged sales persons to use unlawful and misleading selling-points and sales tactics on unsuspecting customers, like plaintiffs."

The suit accuses the defendants of the following acts:

Defendants are set up as high-pressure telemarketing operations;
Complaints have been filed against defendants all over the country, including complaints to the Federal Trade Commission;

Defendants fabricate stories and lie about the origin and value of coins to increase their sales;

Defendants "pitch heat" to increase their revenues, guaranteeing customers a substantial increase and appreciation on their coin investments, knowing their representations are false and misleading;

Defendants obtain credit card numbers and charge customers' cards, without permission, a practice known as "banging" or "burning" a credit card;

Defendants convince consumers to take out loans, including home equity loans, to purchase 'rare' coins;

Defendants offer a money back guarantee, but intentionally do not honor the guarantee;

Defendants mislead customers about the mark-up of each coin being sold, failing to disclose the real mark-up;

Defendants advise customers to take their money out of investments such as stocks, certificates of deposit and bonds, and to purchase coins.

Defendants tell customers their investment in coins will "outperform" their investments in other areas, without any specific underlying data to support such assertions;

Defendants "bait and switch," selling customers on more expensive coins or coins. Defendants know they do not have in their possession, and then send customers less expensive coins or coins the customers did not order;

And defendants' employees are taught to "isolate objections" and not take "NO" for an answer.

"Plaintiffs relied to their detriment on defendants' misrepresentations in purchasing the coins in question," the suit said. "Due to defendants' intentional and knowingly false and deceptive practices, plaintiffs have suffered substantial monetary losses."

The suit claims the defendants are guilty of fraud, deceptive trade practices, breach of express warranties and conspiracy.

The plaintiffs are suing for compensatory, economic and exemplary damages, plus mental anguish and court costs.

They are represented by Jason Gibson of the Gibson Law Firm.

Case No. E179-220

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