News Release

Corporation Commission Partners with CFTC and 26 State Securities Regulators to Stop $68 Million Precious Metals Scheme that Targeted the Elderly

PHOENIX — The Arizona Corporation Commission announced today that it is participating in a multijurisdictional, coordinated enforcement action to stop a fraudulent precious metals scheme that resulted in investments exceeding $68 million from at least 450 investors nationwide.

The Corporation Commission has joined the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and 26 other state securities regulators in filing a complaint in the United States District Court for the Central District of California alleging Safeguard Metals, LLC and Jeffrey Santulan, a/k/a Jeffrey Hill solicited investors nationwide by touting precious metals at grossly inflated prices that were not disclosed.

“This is one of multiple, large-scale precious metals investment schemes we’ve endeavored to stop since the pandemic began and the Commission’s Securities Division is investigating other similar cases,” said Chairwoman Márquez Peterson. “As the market continues to fluctuate, we anticipate seeing more fraudsters attempting to capitalize on investor’s uncertainty and using fear to manipulate investors out of their hard-earned money.”

To prevent any further damages, the Corporation Commission urges investors to be particularly cautious when purchasing precious metals and to check for outrageously high commissions, spreads, or markups as high as 30 to 70 percent. The investors in this case were advised by the fraudsters to liquidate their holdings at registered investment firms to fund investments in precious metals, bullion, and bullion coins through self-directed individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Self-directed IRAs should not be confused with traditional IRAs or other retirement vehicles.

With the expectation of additional precious metals investment schemes, the Corporation Commission is urging investors to check the registration of all investment products and professionals, diligently research investments, ask tough questions about the fees, markups or spreads, risks, and potential returns. If the answers seem too good to be true or don’t make sense, protect your wallet by just walking away.

The defendants are accused of failing to disclose the markup charge for their precious metals bullion products and that investors could lose the majority of their funds once a transaction was completed. In many cases, the market value of the precious metals sold to investors was substantially lower than the value of the securities and other retirement savings investors liquidated to fund their purchase. In Arizona, 14 investors were defrauded out of more than $1,033,898 in this nationwide scheme.

The Corporation Commission encourages investors to contact the Securities Division's Investigator on Duty if they suspect they were targeted by any type of investment scheme. The Duty Officer can be reached by email at SecuritiesDiv@azcc.gov, by telephone at 602-542-0662 or toll free in Arizona, 1-866-VERIFY9 (837-4399).  Investors can also find helpful information about fraud prevention and filing a complaint at the Commission’s investor education website, www.azcc.gov/azinvestor or in Spanish at www.azcc.gov/azinversor.

Arizona Corporation Commission

1200 W. Washington Street

Phoenix, AZ 85007

 

Corporations Division

1300 W. Washington Street

Phoenix, AZ 85007

 

Tucson Office (Walk-ins only)

400 W. Congress Street

Tucson, AZ 85701