LOS ANGELES (CN) - Goldline International, which was ordered this year to pay customers millions of dollars in refunds, fired a compliance officer for objecting to its scare tactics to pressure elderly people to buy overvalued gold coins, the woman claims in court.
Carol Taylor Gabrelow sued Goldline in Superior Court, claiming her bosses did nothing when she told them the company's telemarketing sales pitches violate federal and state laws.
She says she was fired for her trouble in March, along with her husband, Joel Gabrelow - also an ex-Goldline employee and her co-plaintiff.
According to the 26-page complaint, Goldline duped elderly clients who did not understand what they were buying, implied that marked-up gold coins would allow customers to avoid taxes, and that gold bullion was subject to seizure by the U.S. government.
"Goldline specifically targets vulnerable consumers with sales tactics designed to pressure those consumers into buying products that would often result in the consumer losing over one-third of his or her investment the instant the purchase is made meaning that, even when the price of the precious metals increases, because these consumers were deceived into purchasing coins with mark-ups exceeding 50 percent, it could be years, if ever, before the consumer recoups, much less makes any profit on, the investment," the complaint states.
In 2010, then-Congressman Anthony Weiner headed an investigation into Goldline which found that the company used prominent conservative commentators, including Glenn Beck, Dennis Miller, Laura Ingraham and Mike Huckabee, to promote Goldline's "false narrative" to unwitting customers, the complaint states.
As Weiner turned the screws, for a brief period Goldline "discouraged account executives from engaging in some of the illegal conduct," but it returned to its old tricks when the investigation was over, the Gabrelows say in the complaint.
A Los Angeles County judge this year ordered Goldline to pay up to $4.5 million in customer refunds; the Santa Monica city attorney filed a criminal complaint against Goldline in late 2011.
Criminal charges against Goldline and its employees were dismissed but Goldline was ordered to disclose actual price markups to customers, Courthouse News reported at the time.
Gabrelow claims that Goldline tried to keep her away from a court-appointed monitor.
"(S)hortly before and after the entry of the stipulated final judgment, Goldline tried to hide Gabrelow from the court-appointed monitor because they feared she would divulge to the monitor the illegal conduct which she had earlier brought to Goldline's attention," the complaint states.
Instead of resolving concerns, Gabrelow says, Goldline stripped her of her position as vice president of compliance.
"Goldline hired a new chief compliance officer and moved Carol Gabrelow to a new office which was located in the 'back office' area, on a different floor," the complaint states. "In her prior position as vice president of compliance, approximately 28 Goldline employees reported directly or indirectly to Carol Gabrelow. In the new position of VP of administration, no employees reported to Gabrelow. This new position as VP of administration was a sham, and Gabrelow was no longer given any work to do, with the exception of some clerical work assembling documents."
When its bid to force her out failed, Goldline fired Gabrelow's entire finance department and her husband, she says.
The Gabrelows seek lost wages and punitive damages for wrongful termination, breach of contract, retaliation, labor law violations, and other charges.
They are represented by Mark Baute with Baute Crochetiere & Wang.
Goldline did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
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