Two Orange County Precious Metals Trading Groups were shut down by the Feds due to allegations of fraud. Bharat “Brad” Adatia of San Juan Capistrano, Sharief “Sharice” McDowell of Loma Linda and Todd Krejci of Trabuco Canyo, owners of Laguna Niguel-based20/20 Trading Co. Inc. and 20/20 Precious Metals Inc. have been accused of taking money from investors to buy precious metals. 98% of their customers allegedly lost money. Much of the investor money was borrowed, causing the investors to incur interest on their debt. Some of the investors took money from retirement accounts to invest with the businesses.
U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton granted an injunction that froze the companies’ assets and named a receiver to take over the business. Many people in Mr. Adatia, McDowell and Krejci’s shoes may be lulled into thinking that this is merely a civil case. However, many fraud cases such as this, begin with a civil injunction. Criminal charges will most certainly be filed. These men are facing approximately 87-108 months in federal prison, pursuant to the federal sentencing guidelines, if they are convicted of these charges.
One of the elements of fraud is the making of a material representation or omission that is likely to cause someone to part with their money. There also has to be a specific intent to deceive or cheat. It appears that the government is alleging that the companies’ website made representations that were false. The website described the owners as seasoned professionals with years of experience. It further stated that precious metals are “as solid as you’re going to get in terms of investment. This is not the high-yield-yet-high-risk stock market.” The government has the burden of proving that these representations were false, beyond a reasonable doubt.
The most critical thing for these men to do at this moment is to hire an experienced Federal Criminal Defense Attorney and address this before charges are filed. Pre-indictment is the best time to approach the U.S. attorney’s office to try to resolve a case. If these men are not guilty of these charges, the sooner they enlist the help of an attorney, the sooner they can begin to prepare their defense.
If you or a loved one are under investigation for fraud, call the Law Office of Diane C. Bass.