Goldline International, the precious metal retailer that has capitalized on conservatives’ worries about the economy, has been hit with 19 criminal charges of fraud and theft.
According to a statement released by the consumer affairs division of the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office, Goldline allegedly “runs a bait and switch operation in which customers, seeking to invest in gold bullion, are switched to highly overpriced coins by using false and misleading claims."
The City Attorney’s office said that in addition to the charges against the company, former CEO Mark Albarian, executives Robert Fazio and Luis Beeli, and salespeople Charles Boratgis and Stephanie Howard defrauded customers. Current CEO Scott Carter is also accused of making false or misleading statements.
Each of the charges carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and maximum fines of between $1,000 and $10,000 per offense.
Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Mark Levin, former GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson, among others, have all endorsed the company.
The company’s website features these endorsers, suggesting the talkers backing "gives Goldline credibility." The company has said it will vigorously contest the charges.