Father, Sons Indicted for Defrauding Victims of More Than $18 Million
MEMPHIS, TN—A father and two sons were indicted on multiple charges this week for their alleged roles in a scheme that defrauded victims of more than $18 million.
Larry Bates, a former Tennessee state legislator, was CEO of First American Monetary Consultants (FAMC), Inc. A financial company, FAMC engaged in buying, selling and trading precious metals, primarily gold and silver coins. He was also the CEO of Information Radio Network, Inc. (IRN), a broadcast service that provided radio listeners with information and advice on a variety of topics including politics and world economy.
Larry’s son, Charles “Chuck” Bates, was executive vice president and news director for IRN and an economist with FAMC. Larry’s other son, Robert Bates, was an economist with FAMC.
From May 2002 to October 2013, the trio allegedly encouraged customers, many of whom were Christians and elderly individuals, to purchase copious amounts of certain types of gold and silver from FAMC. All of the individuals targeted by the Bates were seeking advice and help from a supposed trusted Christian advisor and/or an alleged reputable Christian financial company, according to the indictment.
The defendants utilized IRN as a means of advertising, promoting, and soliciting the sale or purchase of gold and silver to and from individuals nationwide, according to the indictment. To execute their scheme, the Bates’ told potential customers that they needed to purchase gold and silver to protect themselves from “Mystery Babylon,” an alleged forthcoming economic, political and religious downturn.
Those who accepted the Bates’ offers provided payment via mail, wire transfers, or through private and commercial interstate carriers to purchase gold and silver from FAMC. Subsequent to submitting their payments, the customers would receive an invoice and order confirmation via mail, according to the indictment.
After the defendants received money and/or gold and silver from customers, they would partially complete the customers’ orders or fail to fill them altogether. The indictment alleges that the defendants utilized a portion of the embezzled proceeds to fund personal expenses and maintain operation of FAMC and IRN. When contacted by customers who didn’t receive their orders, the defendants would allegedly provide false promises, delay returning calls or e-mails, or neglect to respond altogether. According to the indictment, this activity continued from weeks up to years.
“As the indictment alleges, the defendants defrauded unsuspecting victims of more than $18 million by promising to purchase gold and silver coins on their behalf,” said U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III. “Unfortunately, hundreds of these victims never received the coins they purchased. Instead, their money was used by the defendants to fund lofty salaries and exorbitant lifestyles.”
More than 300 people were victimized during the Bates’ scheme. In addition to individuals in West Tennessee, the Bates’ defrauded people in Texas, Alabama, Kansas, Vermont, Oklahoma, Missouri, Florida, Massachusetts, and a multitude of other states.
All three defendants are being charged with multiple counts of mail and wire fraud. If convicted, they each face up to 20 years’ imprisonment and up to $1 million in fines per count.
The defendants are also being charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
If convicted, they each face up to 20 years’ imprisonment and up to $1 million in fines.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Larry Laurenzi and David Pritchard are representing the government in this case.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.