In Short

Oregon financial regulators crack down on precious metals fraud

By: - October 26, 2023 3:59 pm
Theodore Johnson was convicted of 15 months in federal prison for one count of bank fraud.

The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation has settled a lawsuit with a company that sold overpriced precious metals to Oregonians. (Getty Images)

Oregon financial regulators have reached a settlement with a precious metals dealer that allegedly targeted hundreds of elderly people in 30 states who sunk millions of dollars into overpriced silver and gold coins.

The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation on Thursday announced the settlement, which stems from a federal lawsuit Oregon and 29 other states filed against Safeguard Metals in the U.S. District Court’s District of Central California, the state where the company is based. 

More than 450 investors nationwide put $68 million into the scheme from 2017 to 2021, Oregon financial regulators said in the release. They included 11 Oregonians who invested $2.3 million. 

To check the Oregon license of someone offering an investment opportunity, go here

It’s unclear how much money Oregonians will recoup. At this point, the company agrees not to operate in Oregon, but the states and company are still negotiating the civil penalties and restitution.

“Safeguard Metals engaged in fraudulent and deceptive practices to solicit millions of dollars primarily from elderly and retirement-aged individuals for profit,” the division administrator TK Keen said in a statement. “As a result, customers suffered substantial losses on their retirement investments. This settlement reflects the work DFR continues to do to hold bad actors in the precious metals industry accountable to consumers.”

Besides shutting down the company’s scheme, the settlement order also determined the defendants charged a markup of 51% to 71% on the precious metals, much more than what the company told its customers. 

As part of the court settlement, Safeguard agreed to a permanent injunction that bars the company’s owner, Jeffrey Ikahn, from working as an investment advisor, broker and commodity advisor in Oregon. 


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Ben Botkin
Ben Botkin

Ben Botkin covers justice, health and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. Ben Botkin has been a reporter since 2003, when he drove from his Midwest locale to Idaho for his first journalism job. He has written extensively about politics and state agencies in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. Most recently, he covered health care and the Oregon Legislature for The Lund Report. Botkin has won multiple journalism awards for his investigative and enterprise reporting, including on education, state budgets and criminal justice.