A 40-year-old Portland man has been indicted on 16 counts of wire and mail fraud over a coin-store business the U.S. Attorney’s Office described as a Ponzi scheme.
Aaron Michael Scott owned Blue Moon Coins Worldwide, a Vancouver, Wash.-based business buying and selling precious metals and coins. Between October 2013 and April 2014, Scott and the company accepted money from customers under the pretense of buying metals and coins they requested, but, instead, used the money for company expenses or to fill earlier orders, the federal indictment alleges. Scott also falsely represented that the company had metals and coins in stock or that they had used customers’ money to buy products when they hadn’t, according to the indictment.
When customers asked the company about products they had ordered, Scott and others at Blue Moon Coins would offer excuses, prosecutors say. Some explanations sounded routine, like “been a little more slammed than normal” or “product/cash-flow issue.” Others invoked tales of extreme weather like “we were snowed out of the office for the last 6 days,” blamed slow armored truck delivery or cited “the worst flue [sic] season ever,” the indictment said.
In total, Scott failed to fulfill at least 139 customers’ orders, totaling a loss of $1.3 million. Those losses ranged from $2,000 to $154,000 per customer, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Scott will be arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, where he will enter a plea of not guilty, according to his attorney Josephine Townsend.
The indictment, returned by a grand jury on Sept. 27, isn’t the first time Scott has caught the attention of authorities.
Separately, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission recently filed a civil enforcement action against Scott. A 2016 consent decree between Scott and the state of Washington ordered him to pay $730,000 in restitution, which would be distributed to Blue Moon Coins customers, plus attorney’s fees. Townsend said her client has been making payments toward the restitution.
This article provided by NewsEdge.