Always on the lookout for mining scams, I came across the news report repeated below. This Californian scammed an elderly couple of $5 million promising to extract gold from abandoned mines. I can never quite understand how somebody who is smart enough to accrue so much money, can be so stupid as to part with it on the flimsiest of evidence–or no evidence at all.
Is it the all too human greed when confronted with the prospect of gold? Is it senility that becomes a factor at 80? Is it maybe the guy was charming and believable? He cannot have been that nice if he fired his lawyer and sought to read more than 600 pages of rant at his sentencing. He probably deserves fourteen years in prison.
Any rate here is the story and a warning: do not invest money in promises to get gold from abandoned mines. Maybe there is gold in those old tailings dumps, but that is all.
A federal judge Monday sentenced Walthall to nearly fourteen years in prison on several counts of wire fraud and failure to appear in court.Walthall, 56, told a couple in their 80s that he had experience in gold extraction and that he would use their $5.5 million investment to extract gold from abandoned mines.
But instead, Walthall spent the money to pay off part of a $250,000 loan he received from a former fiance, as well as his son’s $10,000 film school tuition and even buying a hyperbaric oxygen chamber estimated to be worth $60,000, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
He jumped bail last year, but was arrested by the FBI in Nevada while carrying a gun and a book titled “How To Be Invisible”.
In a bizarre sentencing hearing, Walthall tried to fire his attorney, lashed out at the victims, and was turned down when he asked to read a 607-page statement that he said he’d been working on for six months.