FBI Arrest of Scammer Points to Importance of Using Reputable Metals Dealer

February 5th, 2024 Comments

In a case that illustrates the paramount importance of purchasing and selling precious metals through a well-established and reputable dealer like Money Metals, a North Carolina man was arrested this week for selling phony rhodium, as well as scamming someone out of $210,000 of the same.

According to the FBI’s criminal complaint, the alleged scammer, Durham resident Brian Combs, committed wire fraud against at least three unnamed victims.

NorthWest Territorial Scam

With the first victim, Combs allegedly agreed to trade a rare Mickey Mantle baseball card for seven ounces of rhodium valued at $210,000. On April 14, 2021, Combs told the victim that he had mailed the baseball card, providing the victim with a phony tracking number.

“As further agreed between the parties, Victim-1 … shipped by USPS next-day delivery the rhodium to Combs,” the FBI’s complaint said. “Victim-1 never received the baseball card.”

About a month later, Combs then scammed a second victim out of $87,000 by selling “a rare and valuable bottle of Macallan Red Collection whiskey,” which he never delivered.

Then, in June 2022, Combs agreed to sell his third victim 70 grams of Rhodium valued at $9,702.

“Combs falsely represented to Victim-3 that the rhodium he advertised for sale was 99.9% pure,” the FBI’s complaint said.

“Upon receipt of the item purporting to be the 99.9% pure rhodium, Victim-3 submitted the item to a precious metal dealer for testing. The results of that testing indicated that the item Combs had sent Victim-3 … was instead chromium and magnesium, metals of significantly lesser value than the rare precious metal rhodium, and not the item that Combs had represented he would be delivering to Victim-3 in exchange for the $9,702.88.”

According to the FBI’s complaint, Victim-3 told Combs about the situation. Combs promised to send more rhodium, but delivered the victim an empty package instead.

Combs allegedly promised yet again to deliver the rhodium, but never did.

“After further complaints from Victim-3, Combs agreed to refund Victim-3 the amount of $9,702.88. However, Combs purposely never refunded Victim-3 any money paid for the rhodium,” the FBI complaint added.

A preliminary hearing has yet to be scheduled for Combs.

Wire fraud carries a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.