Rare coins auctioned off to help pay victims of Utah Ponzi scheme

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SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah auction house is waiting for large companies for a collection of rare pieces.Thousands of gold, silver and unique pieces are currently auctioned off by auctioneers Erkelsens & Olson in Salt Lake City.

“You usually don’t have this type of product in one area at a time,” said Rob Olson, owner of Erkelens & Olson.

The auction is taking place online rather than in person due to coronavirus concerns and the limited number of people allowed inside the building at one time.

“It was strange,” said Olson. “I mean, when you’re selling with a microphone after 45, and all of a sudden there’s a pandemic hitting, you’re basically doing a 180 in your business. ”

This collection should generate a lot of interest, not only because of the nature of the pieces, but also because of their origin.

The coins belonged to the owner or Rust Rare Coin in downtown Salt Lake City.

Two years ago, Rust Rare Coin was investigated by the FBI and the Securities Exchange Commission after its owners were accused of directing a Ponzi scheme, money laundering and scam of at least 700 million dollar investors.

Rob Olson, owner of Erkelens & Olson Auctioneers, is preparing coins for auction in Salt Lake City on Saturday, November 14, 2020. The coins, from the Rust Rare Coin company, are being sold to help pay off victims of a Ponzi scheme which Federal prosecutors claim was run by the family who owned Rust Rare Coin. (Photo: John Wilson, KSL)

“It was another one of those Ponzi schemes to the tune of about $ 200 million,” Olson said. “There was real estate here, there were quarter horses, I heard over a hundred quarter horses.

Federal prosecutors say the Rust family who ran the store tricked people into believing they were pooling money to buy and sell money.

Instead, they are accused of using the money to pay other investors and for personal use.

Family member Denise Gunderson Rust, 61, pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years probation.

The coins are being prepared for auction by Erkelsens & Olson Auctioneers in Salt Lake City on Saturday, November 14, 2020. The coins, from the Rust Rare Coin company, are being sold to help reimburse victims of a Ponzi scheme that the Federal prosecutors say it is being run by the family who owned Rust Rare Coin. (Photo: John Wilson, KSL)

A US District Judge also ordered him to pay $ 1.7 million in restitution.

Her ex-husband, Gaylen Rust, and their son, Joshua Rust, also face federal charges. The criminal cases against them are ongoing and a trial is currently scheduled for March 2021. The SEC complaint is pending until the criminal cases are resolved.

Olson’s company was chosen by a federally appointed receiver to auction the items and raise money to reimburse victims of the Ponzi scheme.

“All that money goes back to the catcher, who can then distribute it to the people who have lost money and really lost their fortunes,” Olson said.

Victims probably won’t get everything back, but it’s something.

The auction ends this Wednesday.

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