Statement of Commissioner Kristin N. Johnson in Support of Enforcement Action Involving Fraudulent Precious Metals Scheme Targeting Elderly and Retirement-Aged Persons
May 23, 2023
Last month, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against Alexander Spellane and two companies he controlled, Fisher Capital LLC and AMS Consulting Solutions LLC, which he collectively operated together as Fisher Capital Group. Spellane used Fisher Capital Group to engage in a scheme targeting a vulnerable population of mostly elderly and retirement-aged persons throughout the United States, fraudulently persuading them to invest their retirement funds and savings in gold and silver coins at grossly inflated prices—sometimes double or event triple his cost. As a result, Spellane’s victims invested more than $30 million in coins at inflated values—suffering significant losses.
Spellane perpetrated his fraud by creating a pressurized sales process designed to mislead his victims regarding the safety of their existing retirement and investment strategies, and regarding the desirability of supposedly exclusive or collective “semi-numismatic” gold and silver coins that he could offer them. As part of this process, Spellane and his employees used false names, fabricated results, and otherwise made blatantly false statements about the identity, business model, size, reputation, experience and background of Fisher Capital and its employees. Instead of offering his victims a safer and more secure investment for their funds, Spellane instead persuaded them to enter into transactions whereby they immediately suffered dramatic losses due to the exorbitant markups he charged them—requiring their purchases to double or even triple in value before they could break even, discounting any other fees or costs they might be charged.
As I have written previously, defendants in fraud actions like this one often target vulnerable individuals in a community based on shared faith, heritage, culture, or native language, seeking to exploit the trust generated within such a community. Perpetrators target the identified communities because they are familiar with the hopes that motivate individuals in the community to entrust their funds, and also aware of challenges that may deter them from reporting or effectively communicating the details of the fraud to law enforcement or regulatory authorities. Indeed, in this case, Spellane wrote scripts for his salespeople instructing them to reference their Christian Conservative values, as well as purported (false) associations with well-known conservative media personalities. Spellane’s sales representatives played on their targets’ distrust of the traditional financial system, such as banks and brokerages, and skepticism about fiat currency.
The CFTC has issued customer advisories warning against precious metals investment schemes, especially by unregistered entities and individuals. I strongly encourage all members of the public to stay informed about the potential scams and abuses in forex assets markets by visiting our investor advisory page.
I applaud the work of the Division of Enforcement staff who have pursued this investigation and are bringing this case, including: Jake Mermelstein, Alben Weinstein, David W. McGregor, Lenel Hickson, Jr., and Manal M. Sultan.
 Statement of Commissioner Kristin N. Johnson Regarding Fraud and Misappropriation by a Digital Asset Ponzi Scheme, Feb. 16, 2023, https://www.cftc.gov/PressRoom/SpeechesTestimony/johnsonstatement021623.
 CFTC Customer Advisory: Beware of Gold and Silver Schemes Designed to Drain Your Retirement Savings, https://www.cftc.gov/LearnAndProtect/AdvisoriesAndArticles/CustomerAdvisory_COVID19PreciousMetals.htm.
 CFTC, Advisories & Articles, https://www.cftc.gov/LearnAndProtect/AdvisoriesAndArticles/index.htm.