From time to time, it can really be a heart breaker to speak out and warn consumers about dangerous situations developing in the rare coin and precious markets. Especially when I have to report that a friend or friendly acquaintance represents a danger. Unfortunately, I find myself in that position today.
Todd Griffiths of CTGroup of Irvine California is a third generation rare coin dealer. Todd is extremely bright and a very knowledgeable Numismatist who unfortunately, in my opinion, made some horrible business decisions.
I have only known Todd for little over two years. I like him personally and wish him only the best. Unfortunately, he's simply made some terrible business decisions over the past two years that has cost him a large fortune and may cost his clients as much as seven figures as well.
I worked for Todd as an outside consultant from January 1st, 2011 to April 30th, 2011.
Todd has a magnetic personality that makes him literally the best salesman I've seen in the precious metals and rare coin industry. He's easy going, full of energy and generally a fun person to be around. Yet during my employment, I began to recognize that Todd was (in my opinion) on his way to bankrupting himself despite my every attempt to steer him in the right direction.
By mid April of 2011 I realized it was impossible to guide Todd out of the dangerous business course he was heading. So, I resigned as a consultant. I just wasn't willing to take bi-monthly checks when he was refusing to take my advice, and continued on a course that I considered would be fatal for his business.
In late April 2011 I flew into Orange County to meet with him in Irvine office for the sole purpose of resigning.
When I resigned I warned him again he was heading for very serious financial trouble and that if he didn't take immediate action he would find himself in a hornet nest of trouble. I warned him he would lose $3 million just on one marketing contract that he had signed above my objections. He chose not to listen.
I was also VERY worried about his "Numismatic Trading Account program" (NTA). The program was simple; CTGroup sold coins to its clients and then would talk the clients into leaving the coins with the company for the purpose of reselling the coins for a split the profits 80%/20% in favor of the client. The clients taking part in the NTA program all signed contracts that gave them the right at any time to request their monies back by giving CTGroup 30 days notice. If the NTA program worked that way I wouldn't be writing about Todd and CTGroup today.
Todd's business plan for CTGroup has not worked out. His firm has bounced several checks, owes a great deal of money to clients and dealers and making matters worse has sold coins sent by clients without paying the clients for the coins. But the misery doesn't stop there!
In recent weeks it has become apparent that Todd / CTGroup have used client's coins in the Numismatic Trading Program as collateral for loans taken from other rare coin dealers. Bottom line: you cannot use rare coins as collateral for loans when the coins belong to other people. It's a terrible transgression and may be criminal fraud in my opinion
On Monday I received an email from Coin World. They were unaware that I have not been affiliated with Todd in any way for a year. The email detailed a CTGroup client (a disabled Vietnam Veteran) who had sent $72,000 in MS70 silver and gold bullion for trade.
The client was complaining to Coin World that he hadn't been paid for or received coins promised in trade and has been chasing CTGroup for a resolution for a few months without luck.
Happily this customer problem may be rectified by the end of the week with a check. According to John Damiano the firms Sales Manager he will be sent a check for the monies owed this Friday (My Fingers Are Crossed).
Still there are several other clients of CTGroup that are either out of pocket or rare coins and I believe there's a genuine chance that the financial situation at the company is desperate and clients with coins in the firm's Numismatic Trading Account program (NTA) are at risk for as much as a 100% loss, as well as a several dealers and clients with coins in the NTA program or who sold coins to CTGroup and have yet to receive money for their rare coins.
Given the danger, I am compelled to recommend the following. In my opinion, if you have done business with CTGroup and have coins with them in their NTA, are waiting for payment for liquidation or are owed money - GET YOUR COINS BACK ASAP!
I can't recommend doing business with CTGroup. It breaks my heart to issue this warning, but I believe the danger is too great.
If you have purchased rare coins from CTGroup of Irvine California, please feel free to reach out to me at JamesDiGeorgia@DiGeorgia.com and let me know what you own, what you paid and if you're caught in any way in this mess. I'll do my best to advise you what to do. If you're owed coins or money from CTGroup I suggest documenting the debt and immediately start banging on the company's door. Get your coins back, get paid what you're owed and steer clear of Mr. Griffiths and his CTGroup.
This is another example of why you don't store your rare coins and precious metals with rare coin or precious brokers /dealers. You must store your coins in the safety of your own Safety Deposit Box!