The state of Mississippi has been named in a settlement with precious metals dealer Safeguard Metals, LLC and Jeffrey Ikahn after filing a lawsuit claiming that the two engaged in a million scheme that targeted the elderly.
The lawsuit — which was filed in February 2022 — alleged that Safeguard and Ikahn engaged in a $68 million fraudulent scheme that aimed to defraud older individuals across the nation.
Safeguard and Ikahn were accused of misleading investors about Safeguard’s commissions and markups on the coins, charging average markups of approximately 64 percent on its sales of silver coins instead of the four percent to 33 percent markups that they disclosed to investors.
According to the Consent Order, Safeguard and Ikahn obtained $67 million from the sale of coins to more than 450 elderly retail investors, and kept approximately $25.5 million in mark ups between October 2017 and July 2021.
Further documents show that the two misrepresented Safeguard’s and Ikahn’s credentials and the risk and safety of customer investments in traditional retirement accounts.
In Mississippi alone, six investors were defrauded out of nearly $892,000 during the execution of the nationwide scheme.
Secretary Michael Watson and Attorney General Fitch announced on Wednesday that the settlement was reached in partnership with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and 29 other state regulators.
“These seniors had worked a lifetime with the hope of living comfortably in their retirement and found themselves the target of scam artists,” Fitch said. “This kind of exploitation will not be tolerated in Mississippi. The Attorney General’s Office is proud to work with Secretary Watson and his team to protect Mississippi seniors and other investors.”
As part of the court-approved settlement, Safeguard and Ikahn agreed to a permanent injunction which enjoins them from violating several federal and state laws including laws prohibiting commodities fraud, securities and investment adviser fraud, and providing unlicensed investment advice.
In addition, Ikahn agreed to an order barring him from any position of employment, management, or control of any investment adviser, broker-dealer, or commodity adviser in Mississippi.
Further, he agreed to orders barring him from the securities industry in other states and to a federal commodity trading ban. In the next phase of the litigation, the appropriate amount of customer restitution and civil monetary penalties will be determined.
“Mississippians should be able to invest their hard-earned money without worry,” Watson said. “I am incredibly proud of our Securities team for being an integral part of this enforcement action and for taking action on behalf of the people of this state. Our office will continue to work to protect all Mississippians.”
Safeguard and Ikahn also agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleging violations of federal Securities Laws.
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