WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Excuse, after excuse, after excuse. One so-called business owner blamed the post office, then blamed insurance when customers didn't get the products they promised. In reality, he never mailed them! Postal inspectors say what started as a legitimate business turned into a giant scheme.
U.S. Postal inspector Raymond Campbell said the owner of Global Gold and Metals Trading made a wrong turn and swindled more than $6 million from customers trying to buy precious metals online. U.S. Postal Inspector Raymond Campbell said, "he was selling products at below market value. He was selling it at a discounted rate, which ultimately attracted the consumer to purchase from him, but he couldn't sustain that."
Postal inspectors say Earl Mohammed was making good on the first several orders to gain his customers trust. But once they put in a more sizable orders, he claimed the package was sent. Authorities say that was a lie. Campbell said, "What he did is he provided the consumer with a postal service tracking number, he would actually pay postage for the tracking number and he would tell them it was en route. Ultimately it would never arrive at the consumer's home or residence, they would call Mr. Mohammad, ask where the items were and he would say the postal service lost them."
Postal inspectors say the excuses were Mohammed's way of "buying time" for new money to come in. Another excuse- claimed he filed an insurance claim but it would take time to get the consumer a refund. Postal inspectors say his fraud actually became a ponzi scheme. He used new customer money to repay old customers that were still awaiting their precious metals. Inspectors say the average investor lost between $50,000 and $75,000.
Campbell said, "A lot of these individuals ended up invested their life savings, retirement funds; several homes that have now been foreclosed on... We are still working to locate funds. We suspect there may be concealed funds." Postal inspectors issue this warning: all investments carry risk. Inspectors say do your due diligence and research any company you're going to do business with. If you believe you've been scammed, make sure you report it to law enforcement.
Earl Mohammad pleaded guilty to mail fraud. A judge sentenced him to nine years in federal prison. He'll have to pay $6.5 million in restitution.