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Is gold dealer using fear to steer buyers into more expensive purchases?

Southern California authorities are probing the sales tactics of Santa Monica's Goldline International, a key sponsor of Fox News host Glenn Beck.

July 30, 2010|David Lazarus

The chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection has said a hearing will be held into whether Goldline's aggressive tactics cross the line into illegal or unethical practices.

I'm not sure they do. Goldline clearly engages in a hard sell, but it may be difficult to prove that they're deliberately duping people into making unwise investments.

Nor is it necessarily misleading to share with customers a sense of urgency about moving money into gold. "We're in extraordinary times," Carter said. "There's a lot of concern about paper currencies."

No one forces people to believe that the end times may be upon us. Some might see Beck as little more than a self-important blowhard who seldom lets the facts get in the way of a good scare. But for others, he's a voice of reason.

Beck declined through a spokesman to comment.

As with most investments, there's a strong element of "buyer beware" at work here. If you bought a home in L.A. around the peak of the housing bubble in mid-2007, you didn't do particularly well. If you bought more recently, you probably got pretty good value for your money.

Will gold prices keep going up? Who knows?

At his jewelry district shop, Malek said he wouldn't be surprised if gold hit $1,500 an ounce by the end of the year. "Things are that bad," he said.

Or not. It's possible the worst is behind us and gold prices will head south again as stability returns to world financial markets.

Carter said privately held Goldline is now doing about $500 million a year in sales. The insider said the company is on track to hit $1 billion in revenue within the next 12 months — a possibility that Carter confirmed.

That doesn't tell me gold's the place to be. It tells me Glenn Beck and his sponsor have a mighty long reach. And they've got people right where they want them.

David Lazarus' column runs Tuesdays and Fridays. He also can be seen daily on KTLA-TV Channel 5. Send your tips or feedback to

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