image of two coins, one half on top of the other, sitting on a wood table topThe Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services published its Summer 2022 issue of Common Ground this week. The newsletter is available here, Common Ground Summer 2022 ( It includes an article about cryptocurrencies and NFTs and another about a lawsuit against Safeguard Metals, LLC and others that Oregon joined.

Regarding crypto and nonfungible tokens, DCBS writes that its Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) is “warning Oregonians to use caution when investing in cryptocurrencies, nonfungible tokens, or other new or volatile products.” And “[t]here are nearly 10,000 active cryptocurrencies and they and NFTs are increasing in popularity. Regulation of these new asset types is still evolving. While there are often promises of big returns consumers often lose money when investing in them.” According to DCBS, cryptocurrencies and digital assets topped the North American Securities Administrators Association’s (NASAA) annual list of top investor threats.

According to the article about the Safeguard Metals lawsuit, the Department joined the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and 26 state securities regulators in bringing claims against the precious metals dealer and its owner. The alleged scam involved $68 million taken from 450 investors, including eleven Oregon investors who were defrauded out of almost $3 million. 

The Safeguard Metals article also includes a warning about self-directed IRAs. In our experience, metals dealers sometimes require investors to open a self-directed IRA to hold precious metals investments.  DCBS explains, “[s]elf-directed IRAs should not be confused with traditional IRAs or other retirement vehicles. Self-directed accounts are placed with a custodian, but do not afford the investor any protections nor provide a review of the holdings or any valuations of the holdings in the account.”

A recent Wall Street Journal article, A Couple Stored IRA Gold at Home.  They Owe the IRS More than $300,000, is a reminder about what can be complex rules for using an IRA to invest in esoteric assets, such as gold, silver, platinum, and other precious metals. Precious metals tax avoidance strategies and investment scams proliferate on the internet and social media. These scams are so common that the Commodity Future Trading Commission published a fraud advisory. According to the California Department of Financial Protection & Innovation, Department of Business Oversight Sues to Stop $185 Million Coins Scam that Targeted Senior Citizens | The Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, for example, the business behind targeted senior citizens through advertisements on conservative media and websites., according to the state, used fear tactics to pressure seniors to purchase overpriced coins through self-directed IRAs. The promotion of self-directed IRAs to hold esoteric or alternative investments is common in precious metals investing scams. These scams often combine bad tax advice with bad investment advice. They also often charge high fees, which in some cases are not disclosed. In some instances, the people and entities behind the investments are unlicensed. The Wall Street Journal article makes it clear that an investor considering using an IRA to invest in precious metals would be wise to obtain professional advice.