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Tue Apr 17, 2018, 03:38 AM

Former President & CEO and Former Vault Manager of now Bankrupt Precious Metals Firm Indicted


Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

Monday, April 16, 2018

Former President & CEO and Former Vault Manager of now Bankrupt Precious Metals Firm Indicted for Fraud Scheme

Pair Defrauded Customers with False Promises about Bullion Delivery, Storage, & Leasing; 3,000+ Customers Defrauded of more than $25 Million

The former President & CEO and the former vault manager of Northwest Territorial Mint, a now-bankrupt company dealing in precious metals, were indicted last week for 20 federal felonies resulting from a Ponzi-like scheme that defrauded customers of millions of dollars, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. BERNARD ROSS HANSEN, 57, aka Ross B. Hansen and DIANE RENEE ERDMANN, 45, aka Diane Renee, both of Auburn, Washington will make their initial appearances on the indictment at 2:00 Monday, April 16, 2018.

Northwest Territorial Mint (NWTM) operated both a custom business that involved the manufacturing of medallions, coins, and other awards, and a bullion business that involved the selling, buying, exchanging, storing, and leasing of gold, silver, and other precious metals. The company had offices in Federal Way and Auburn, Washington, but declared bankruptcy on April 1, 2016.

The indictment alleges that between 2009 and 2017, HANSEN and ERDMANN defrauded NWTM customers in a variety of ways. HANSEN and ERDMANN lied about shipping times for bullion, improperly used customer money to expand the business to other states, and used customer money to pay their own personal expenses. By at least 2012, the company lacked enough assets to fulfill customer orders and used new customer money to pay off older customers in a Ponzi-like scheme. In total, over 3000 customers paid for orders, or made bullion sales or exchanges, that were either never fulfilled or never refunded. The total loss to these customers was more than $25,000,000.

In addition to the customer fraud, in April 2016, more than fifty people who stored their bullion with NWTM found all of part of their bullion worth $4.9 million was missing; twenty customers involved in a bullion leasing program were also defrauded of more than $5 million; and a Canadian silver bullion producer was defrauded of more than $1 million in silver bullion.

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