Larry Bates, a former Tennessee state legislator, and his sons Charles "Chuck" Bates and Robert Bates were indicted on multiple charges this week for allegedly defrauding victims of more than $18 million in a bizarre end-times scheme.
Larry Bates was CEO of First American Monetary Consultants (FAMC), Inc., a financial company engaged in buying, selling, and trading gold and silver coins. He was also the CEO of Information Radio Network, Inc. (IRN), a radio network that provided listeners with information and advice on politics and the world economy. Charles Bates was executive vice-president and news director for IRN, and Robert Bates was an economist with FAMC.
Between May 2002 to October 2013, the Bates' ran advertisements on IRN encouraging listeners to purchase gold or silver to protect themselves from something called "Mystery Babylon," which they touted as an economic, political, and religious downturn. Their financial company and radio network primarily targeted Christians and the elderly.
More than 300 customers who attempted to purchase gold or silver through the Bates' company would receive an invoice and confirmation in the mail. But after the Bates' received payment, they allegedly didn't fill the orders or would only partially complete the orders. When contacted by customers, they reportedly delayed returning calls or emails and wouldn't answer at all.
“As the indictment alleges, the defendants defrauded unsuspecting victims of more than $18 million by promising to purchase gold and silver coins on their behalf,” said U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III. “Unfortunately, hundreds of these victims never received the coins they purchased. Instead, their money was used by the defendants to fund lofty salaries and exorbitant lifestyles.”
They're being charged with wire fraud and mail fraud. If convicted, they will each face up to 20 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines.