AG freezes assets of gold, silver firm

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Texas Attorney General’s office is cracking-down on an Austin-based gold and silver company.

The company, AGT American Silver and Gold, is accused of bilking consumers from all across the United States out of tens of thousands of dollars.

The AG’s office has frozen the company’s assets and prohibited the company from taking any orders for precious metals, including gold and silver coins.

Citing “deceptive trade practices” Austin’s Better Business Bureau has also been investigating AGT American Silver and Gold since last year.

The BBB says customers all over the country bought tens of thousands of dollars in gold and silver coins and never received them.

“They had paid money up front,” said BBB spokeswoman Erin Dufner. “But they weren’t receiving the coins, as promised”.

In one example, a man shelled out $100,000 to diversify his investments, and got only $30,000 in coins.

And that’s just one, of many examples. Dufner said the Better Business Bureau was contacted by many consumers with similar complaints against AGT American Silver and Gold.

“Several consumers that are contacting BBB with the same allegations — ‘hey, we sent this company a lot of money up front and we only got a partial order of gold, they’re unwilling to give us a refund,” Duffner said.

KXAN contacted AGT American Silver and Gold, but the man who answered the phone immediately hung up.

The listed address of the company, 1000 S. Congress Ave., Suite 200 . But the address is just an undeveloped field covered in shrubs and trees.

Named in the Attorney General’s action are Rick and Lora Maestre. Rick Maestre also has an alias of David Winston.

KXAN attempted to ask Maestre about a previous allegation from the Securities and Exchange Commission, but he did not return calls.

KXAN found a 1999 settlement with the SEC in which a Richard Maestre settled an insider trading allegation with the Security and Exchange Commission,although he admitted no wrongdoing when the permanent injunction was ordered.

Experts say consumers should do their homework.

“You’ve got to be careful. You’ve got to know what you’re doing. And again, reputation is everything,” says West Bank Jewelers goldsmith Danny Lansdown. “The gold market actually fluctuates every hour all day long, you know and so know the market.”

For now, the Attorney General will not allow AGT American Silver and Gold to take any orders for precious metals and they are planning a hearing for later this week.