Coin company hires investigator to prove consumer fraud

David Yates Nov. 29, 2007, 9:55am

Austin-based U.S Money Reserve, Inc. is pursuing a permanent injunction against a band of former employees, who formed their own coin company by allegedly stealing the company's consumer accounts.

U.S Money Reserve, doing business as United States Rare Coin & Bullion Reserve (USRCB), filed its suit, USRCB vs. United States Money Exchange et al, earlier this month.

On Nov. 13 Judge Bob Wortham, 58th Judicial District, granted a temporary injunction. Two weeks later, on Nov.29 a hearing was held for a permanent injunction. At press time no decision had been reached.

The suit names as defendants Cecil Roberts, individually and doing business as United States Money Exchange; Jason Braquet and Ed Seymour, individually and doing business as JTB Coins; Chad Poole, Terry Finley and Bill Truman.

According to the plaintiff's petition, on Oct. 17, 2007, Braquet, a former USRCB employee, left the company to work with other former employees "to divert sales of coins from numerous customers of plaintiff."

"Instead of making an honest living, these defendants were literally stealing the business of plaintiff, as well as stealing credit card information from plaintiff's customers, all in violation of criminal statutes," the suit said. "The defendants have acted as a joint enterprise�"

To prove its allegations, USRCB hired local private investigator and political blogger Philip Klein to probe the former employees who had left the company "on suspicious circumstances."

Klein wrote in his affidavit that USRCB was experiencing "strange calls" from current customers saying that United States Money Exchange charged their credit cards for products ordered from USRCB.

During his investigation, Klein interviewed USRCB employee Derek Faulk. Transcripts from the interview were filed in court documents.

Faulk, who was a high school friend of defendant Braquet, testified in the interview that he and Braquet had been selling USRCB customer information, including credit card numbers, to defendant Roberts, who co-owns United States Money Exchange.

Faulk testified that after Braquet would make a sale while working for USRCB, he would write down the customer's information on a piece of paper, stick it in his pocket then sell it to United States Money Exchange.

"During the overview of the investigation I have found probable cause of both civil and criminal laws being violated by numerous individuals," Klein wrote in his affidavit.

"Criminally I find that possible federal mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud, as well as fraud statutes may have been violated by multiple parities. Civilly I find that possible Texas Deceptive Trade Practice Act statues�have been violated as well as the violation of those named non-compete clauses being violated," Klein wrote.

The suit says defendants Seymour, Poole, Finley, Truman, Braquet and Roberts violated their non-compete agreements when they quit, stole USRCB trade secrets and formed their own rival coin companies.

"The defendants, jointly and severally, have committed negligence, gross negligence, tortuous interference with business relationships and conversion of plaintiff's trade secrets�," the suit said.

In addition to the permanent injunction, USRCB is seeking to recover actual and punitive damages.

The company is represented by attorney John S. Morgan of the Lindsay & Morgan law firm.

Case No. A180-741

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