PHOENIX (CN) - An 82-year-old woman says a telemarketer bilked her for $1.3 million by "aggressively marketing and selling her historic and commemorative coins, precious metals and other dubious collectables by telephone at unconscionably high prices, in some instances, as much as 5 times their actual market value."
Wilma Burgeson claims that Assets Marketing Services "showered" her with telemarketing calls after she called it in response to an advertisement for shipwreck coins.
Burgeson claims that Frank Driver, a senior account executive, specifically targeted her and cultivated a personal relationship with her to gain her trust. Driver "repeatedly invited her to come visit him and his family in Minnesota and stay at their lake house," and asked to visit Burgeson when she was at a conference in Wisconsin, according to the complaint in Maricopa County Court.
Burgeson says Driver induced her to buy a commemorative Olympic gold ingot, an 1865 $20 gold piece, a 1907 $20 gold piece, an 1843 $2.50 gold piece, 10 "buffalo" gold coin sets, and 10 Tutankhamen gold coin sets, and other stuff.
Driver claimed that "coins, precious metals and other collectibles were a good investment for her under the circumstances, especially given the tumultuous economy," the complaint states. Employees of Assets Marketing Services are paid on commission, "which explains the deceptive and high-pressure sales tactics they employ," according to the complaint.
Burgeson says the defendants knew of her vulnerability, "conscionably sought to gain her trust and confidence, and then shamelessly and repeatedly exploited her for exorbitant financial gain."
She says the stuff she bought with $1.3 million she took from her retirement savings is worth only about $350,000.
Burgeson says she was unaware that she had grossly overpaid for the coins that she bought with Driver's advice "until she went to sell a few of them in early February 2010 for living expenses and discovered their true value, which led her to conduct additional research and learned the same was true of everything she purchased."
She seeks rescission of her purchases and damages for illegal telemarketing, elder abuse and fraud. She is represented by Christopher LaVoy with Ridenour, Hienton, & Lewis.Follow @@jamierossCNS
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.