CFTC Charges Florida-Based Worth Group Inc. and Its Principals, Andrew Wilshire and Eugenia Mildner, in Multi-Million Dollar Fraudulent Precious Metals Scheme

CFTC alleges that Defendants, who took in more than $73 million, defrauded customers in connection with precious metals transactions and engaged in illegal off-exchange commodity transactions

The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) recently announced that on August 13, 2013, it filed a civil injunctive enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Worth Group Inc. (Worth), as well as its owner, Andrew Wilshire, and its sole officer and director, Eugenia Mildner, all of Jupiter, Florida. The CFTC's Complaint charges that Defendants defrauded retail precious metals customers and engaged in illegal, off-exchange retail commodity transactions from July 16, 2011, through the present.

According to the Complaint, Worth purported to sell physical metal, including gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, on a fully-paid basis, as well as on a financed basis, to hundreds of retail customers located throughout the United States. The Complaint alleges that Worth falsely represented to customers that, within 28 days of a customer's purchase, Worth would deliver metal either to the customers directly or to a depository that would hold the metal for the customer. The Complaint alleges that pursuant to the scheme, Worth took in over $73 million in customer funds between July 18, 2011, and December 31, 2012.

As alleged, in connection with fully-paid transactions, customers paid the full purchase price to Worth for metals, having been told that Worth would deliver metal in return. The Complaint alleges that from at least August 15, 2011, through November 8, 2012, however, Worth did not actually deliver metal to most customers. Instead, rather than deliver actual metal, Worth's typical practice after receiving customer money was to purchase metals derivatives in accounts owned by Worth. These derivatives purportedly "covered" customer transactions, but, contrary to Worth's representations to customers, did not involve the purchase, transfer, or physical delivery of precious metals to Worth, let alone to its retail customers.

Retail customers engaging in financed transactions with Worth were told that they were borrowing money to purchase precious metals. Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank), a financed transaction such as that conducted by Worth is an illegal off-exchange transaction unless it results in actual delivery of metal within 28 days. The Complaint alleges that Worth often failed to make such delivery on a timely basis. Worth thus defrauded its customers and subjected them to undisclosed exposure to Worth's credit, as they were left with only Worth's commitment to deliver metal rather than the promised metal itself.

The Complaint further alleges that as persons controlling Worth's precious metals operations, Wilshire and Mildner are liable for Worth's violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and a CFTC Regulation.

The CFTC is seeking preliminary and permanent civil injunctions in addition to other remedial relief, including restitution, civil monetary penalties, and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains.

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