It didn't go well.
Goldline, a company that used endorsements from Glenn Beck and other conservative icons to sell hundreds of millions of dollars to consumers, has been charged with theft and fraud in a 19-count criminal complaint filed Tuesday by local officials in California.
The criminal complaint filed Tuesday by the Santa Monica City Attorney's consumer protection unit marks the latest in a series of allegations it has leveled against the gold dealer, which pioneered the practice of weaving its sales pitches into broadcasts by popular conservative political personalities -- including two former presidential candidates -- to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold every year.
The accusations stem from an alleged company practice of advertising to sell people gold bullion, only to have a salesperson instead then aggressively "flip" those customers to collectable gold coins with a very steep markup price. As in, markups of over fifty percent. As you can imagine, this makes the coins terrible investments, as there's little probability the buyers will ever be able to sell the coins for anywhere near what they paid for them.
So here's the apparent deal. Glenn Beck gets his audience all worked up about whatever the latest apocalypse is. Everything is doomed he says, America is going down the crapper, there's going to be race riots and communism and people will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo openly in the streets, and your atheist lesbian neighbors will be assigned to the local Obama death panel charged with disposing of you, and the only thing you can do about it is go, right now, and by some sweet, sweet gold. That'll at least let you barter for food and ammunition with other conservatives as you all hide from the packs of roving zombie Marxists.
The conservative audience, now suitably freaked out about their economic prospects in this imminent Mad Maxian dystopia full of wealth redistribution and non-functional ATM machines, obediently calls the number to buy some gold. Instead of "investing" in anything, though, much less preparing themselves for Commiegeddon, it turns out they're paying much-inflated prices based not on the going price of gold, but on the far more arbitrary "collectable" value of some coins. They're potentially out thousands of dollars, Glenn Beck gets paid, and everyone in the company goes home happy that night.
Yeah, go figure.
Accusations against this company have been circulating for quite some time, but it will be interesting to see where this goes now that a criminal complaint has been filed. There's no crime in convincing people to make bad investment decisions: the complaint, however, alleges fraud. If nothing else perhaps it serves as warning: do not get your investment advice from television commercials. For that matter, do not get your investment advice from conservative pundits, either. Neither makes money because they have your best interests in mind.