Right-wing radio hosts endorse gold company accused of fraud
Conservative radio talkers have a problem. Goldline is one of the largest sponsors and advertisers on Glenn Beck’s, Sean Hannity’s, and Mark Levin’s daily dose of conservative double-speak. Goldline is under fire for allegedly deceiving the public about the quality of its products through the use of fear tactics and outright lies.
The precious metals mover recently settled a lawsuit which alleged that it systematically swindled and frightened elderly potential buyers into buying over-priced gold coins. In the California case, the company settled the action against it for $4.5 million in customer refunds. That was only the latest civil case against Goldline.
In Santa Monica, Calif., Goldline’s headquarters, that city’s prosecutor brought 19 criminal fraud charges against the company that were later dropped.
A judge in Los Angeles, however, ordered Goldline to accept and pay for a court appointed monitor of its business practices. Specifically, the judge wanted Goldline to publish its price markups and cease and desist in misleading the public.
As recently as this week, a new wrinkle has been added to the court appointed monitor program. Goldline’s former compliance officer, Carol Taylor Gabrelow, is suing her former bosses for wrongful termination. According to the Courthouse News Service, Gabrelow says she was fired because her bosses would not allow her to talk to the monitor. In her position as “compliance officer,” they knew that she knew where the bodies were buried, and could and would point them out to the monitor.
From Gabrelow’ civil complaint, there is this:
“Goldline specifically targets vulnerable consumers with sales tactics designed to pressure those consumers into buying products that would often result in the consumer losing over one-third of his or her investment the instant the purchase is made meaning that, even when the price of the precious metals increases, because these consumers were deceived into purchasing coins with mark-ups exceeding 50 percent, it could be years, if ever, before the consumer recoups, much less makes any profit on, the investment.”
Before his own Internet implosion, one of Goldline’s harshest critics was former congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY). Weiner led a full-blown congressional investigation of Goldline following repeated complaints about the company from a number of his more elderly constituents about shady business dealings. Gabrelow’s wrongful firing suit references Weiner’s investigation, stating that Goldline “discouraged account executives from engaging in some of the illegal conduct” while Weiner’s staffers snooped around and in the company’s books. However, when Weiner’s investigation ended, Goldline’s execs and salesmen reverted to form and, indeed, doubled down on the graft, false advertising, and misleading statements.
Yuri Becklemen, was one of those staffers in Weiner’s office. He reportedly told Salon Magazine that at Goldline business “ethics” and “morality” were in short supply. He says, “We spoke to numerous former employees who were conflicted with the tactics being used. However, management set the system up to only reward those that were able to push those concerns aside. One employee told me that if he didn’t upsell customers to semi-collectible coins from regular bullion, his commission check wouldn’t be enough to afford a sandwich.”
The difference between coins and bullion as investment vehicles is significant. Coins are more difficult to sell, yet yield a much larger profit (for Goldline) than bullion. Customers are routinely deceived or pressured to buy coins, therefore, rather than investment-grade bullion.
According to Gabrelow’s complaint, her entire finance department of 28 people was fired along with her.
Beck, Hannity and Levin have continued to hype Goldline in spite of its obvious legal and financial “issues.” In fact, Beck, with the full knowledge of Goldline’s problems, recently offered this endorsement: “Before I started turning you on to Goldline, I wanted to look them in the eye. This is a top notch organization that’s been in business since 1960.”
Sean Hannity says: “Goldline now is the only gold company I personally recommend to you."
And, the irrepressible, take-no-prisoners “conservative” Mark Levin assures his listeners that: "My choice for buying gold is Goldline.”
Goldline has denied all allegations against it; and has never admitted any wrongdoing whatever. “We are committed to transparent, honest and responsible pricing … no gimmicks,” the company says on its website.
This is a story not about a company, which may or may not engage in shady business practices. This is a story about the influence of so-called “conservative” media types’ ability to influence great swaths of the public with not only a crooked political philosophy but steer them into crooked business deals that benefit them, the talkers, directly. I routinely listen and watch them all. The most noticeable thing about them is the complete, utter and unashamed one-sidedness of their message and methods. Critics, opponents, “libruls” are rarely allowed a voice on these programs. And when they are allowed to speak, they are shouted down, ridiculed, harassed, and even threatened with violence.
Yet these men (with Rush Limbaugh leading the way, of course) are the top rated media mavens in America. Why? How? Because they appeal to the “lowest common denominator” among the public. Their “arguments” are based in emotion, the emotion of fear mainly -- fear of “the other” people. The “others” (blacks, browns, “Islamofascists,” gays, “feminazis”) are coming, coming to take your stuff, your culture, your “lifestyle,” your capitalism -- stuff that you’ve worked hard for. They are coming to take your entire country, in fact – the country that your forefathers bequeathed to you and no one else.
This stuff sells. Just as Goldline does.