Portland coin dealer gets four years in prison - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland coin dealer gets four years in prison

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV/AP) -

A 72-year-old coin dealer who once had a radio show promoting gold and silver investments was sentenced in federal court Wednesday in Portland to more than four years in prison and ordered to pay more than $4 million in restitution.

Lawrence H. Heim pleaded guilty in May to wire fraud.

The U.S. attorney's office says Heim fell behind in coin purchases in 2009 and started operating his U.S. Gold and Silver Investments company like a Ponzi scheme -- using money from newer customers to pay off older investors.

The scheme collapsed in 2011.

"Ponzi schemes come in all shapes, sizes and colors – including gold and silver," said Greg Fowler, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. "Many people have simply trusted that the precious metals market was a safe bet in a down economy. This case demonstrates that you must always be cautious about how and with whom you invest your money."

Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation.) The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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