U.S. Attorney Luger Announces Charges for More Than $2 Million Stolen in Three Unrelated Coin Fraud Schemes
United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced the August 6, 2014 indictment of DENNIS CHARLES HELMER, a/k/a “Jeff Jones,” a/k/a, “Mr. Diamond,” a/k/a, “Dennis Dimon,” 53, for devising an elaborate coin fraud scheme and defrauding victims of over $1 million. HELMER is charged with 16 counts of Mail Fraud and three counts of Wire Fraud. In an unrelated indictment unsealed on August 12, 2014, TORY EVAN HUGHES, 44, is charged with Mail Fraud in a similar coin fraud scheme. In a third unrelated case, a felony Information was filed on July 22, 2014, in federal court charging CHRYSANTHOS NICHOLAS, 55, with one count of Mail Fraud.
“Minnesota has more than its share of coin fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “In completely unrelated cases, these three defendants are charged with defrauding unsuspecting victims of more than $2 million dollars in total. Working with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we are investigating and prosecuting those who prey on vulnerable victims.”
According to the indictment, HELMER operated Wholesale Assets Worldwide, LLC (WAW), which engaged in appraising, buying, selling, and trading of coins and precious metals. From November 2009 to December 2013, through WAW, HELMER contacted individuals, many of whom were elderly, and persuaded them to send him money, coins, and precious metals, based on his false promises to provide money or coins in return. Some victims also relied on HELMER to provide safe storage for their coins. As part of the scheme, HELMER intentionally misled customers about the size and stability of his business, including providing them with copies of a false “Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Report,” and stating that WAW had 75 employees and $500 million in annual revenue.
According to court documents, WAW received over $1.2 million in coins, precious metals, and cash from victims. Instead of fulfilling their orders, HELMER sold many of the coins and used customers’ money and proceeds from those sales to fulfill other orders, make payments to other customers, pay his own personal expenses, and attempt to fund start-up costs for another company, Smoke Shack, Inc.
According to the indictment, HELMER at different times used various aliases, including “Jeff Jones,” in an attempt to hide his prior criminal charges for similar conduct in both Dakota and Hennepin Counties. In November 2013, when HELMER learned that WAW was under investigation, he moved his coin fraud operation to Florida. In January 2014, HELMER formed Best Price International, LLC and continued to operate his scheme to defraud customers, this time under the aliases, “Mr. Diamond” and “Dennis Dimon.”
In an unrelated indictment unsealed on August 12, 2014, TORY EVAN HUGHES, 44, is charged with Mail Fraud in a similar coin fraud scheme. According to the indictment, HUGHES owned and operated Reputable Rare Coins, LLC (RRC), located in Roseville, Minnesota. HUGHES bought and sold gold, silver and other coins. The defendant and his sales staff made unsolicited phone calls, primarily to elderly individuals, in an attempt to sell or buy coins. Several customers sent money and coins to HUGHES and received nothing in return. HUGHES is charged with stealing more than $600,000 in cash and coins.
According to the indictment, in November 2013, HUGHES moved his coin fraud operation to Gilbert, Arizona, where he continued to victimize elderly individuals in the same manner as he had done through RRC. Through his new business, U.S. Collectables, HUGHES stole more than $100,000 from customers intending to purchase coins.
In a third unrelated case, a felony Information was filed on July 22, 2014, in federal court charging CHRYSANTHOS NICHOLAS, 55, with one count of Mail Fraud. NICHOLAS is scheduled to make his first appearance before United States District Court Chief Judge Michael J. Davis on August 20, 2014.
According to the information, NICHOLAS owned and operated two coin businesses, TWC Trading (TWC) and North Fork Six Rare Coin Consultants (North Fork), located in New York State. Both businesses evaluated, stored, bought, sold and traded coins and precious metals. Through TWC and North Fork, NICHOLAS entered into contracts with clients to evaluate, store, and sell their coins; however, NICHOLAS did not pay his clients or return the coins to the clients upon their request. Through this scheme NICHOLAS stole more than $200,000 of coins and precious metals.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Svendsen is handling the case against DENNIS CHARLES HELMER.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Schommer is handling the cases against TORY EVANS HUGHES, and CHRYSANTHOS NICHOLAS.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the HELMER and HUGHES cases. The Minnesota Department of Commerce also investigated the HELMER case. The Roseville Police Department also worked the HUGHES investigation.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the NICHOLAS investigation. Defendant Information:
DENNIS CHARLES HELMER, D.O.B. 2/3/1961 Farmington, MN Charges:
- Mail Fraud, 16 counts
- Wire Fraud, three counts
TORY EVAN HUGHES, D.O.B. 12/8/1969 Minneapolis, MN
- Mail Fraud, one count
CHRYSANTHOS NICHOLAS, D.O.B. 1/22/1959 Mettituck, NY
- Mail Fraud, one count