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Senate examines precious metal scams

By Jennifer C. Kerr

WASHINGTON —

Some seniors worried about stock market swings look to gold and other precious metals as a safe investment. But, too often, they’ re scammed by telemarketing con artists who wipe out retirement nest eggs after promising huge profits and low risk — but don’ t mention whopping, hidden fees.

A report, released Wednesday by a Senate committee on aging, estimates more than 10,000 Americans have fallen victim to precious metal schemes since 2001, with losses pegged at around $300 million.

Joe Melomo, of Austin, Texas, said he lost more than $200,000 after investing in gold and silver with a Florida-based precious metals company — almost everything he had saved for retirement.

The 77-year-old was testifying at a hearing chaired by Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

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