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CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney representing individuals and businesses.
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I bought IRA coins via Lear Capital in CA in 2003. Last week

Customer Question

I bought IRA coins via Lear Capital in CA in 2003. Last week sold on recorded phone with Lear & 3rd party. 2 days later Lear said my IRA statements for years was their mistake & I'd never bought some of coins we sold. They want to redo sale of my coins w/o those coins. They have a copy of the 2003 purchase invoice for the supposedly unpurchased coins, but told me to get lawyer if I want it. Lear said the invoice for those coins was marked STC (sterling trust co.) like prior invoices for other coins purchased, but instead of my Sterling account #, the invoice said:" $for payroll only void" .Equity, (prev called Sterling) handles storage- they show no purchase invoice or past funds that I'd have transferred from other IRA accounts to buy those coins. They say my funds were used up with other coin purchases but they said I may hav paid with cash not IRA transfer for those particular coins. 1-Is Lear bound by the sale? 2- Are they bound by my purchase invoice? 3-If must redo the whole sale can I get gold value of last week original sale for the rest of the coins since gold down? All coins were on one account, with one account number but there were 3 different purchase invoices for different coins purchased at different times in 2003. The coins in question were on their own purchase invoice.
I found my Lear statements over the past 10 years (so I am only missing the first 2 years of statements) and they all show Lear stating that I have those coins. I called Equity who used to be called STerling and they said they didn't see that after other purchases made I would have had the funds to buy those coins but said if I had paid for the IRA coins with cash, not an IRA transfer that went through Sterling, I may still have bought them w/o it showing up by Equity/sterling. I spoke to my bank but their records don't go past 10 years. I asked Lear what that info about:"for payroll only" written on the purchase invoice meant and they said they didn't know. Asked Lear for a copy of the invoice they say was a mistake and they said I'd need a lawyer to make them give it to me. I contacted Delaware Depository and they aren't holding those coins for me. Lear says they aren't bound by the sale or the purchase invoice. I said if I'd seen $4,000 worth of coins I hadn't bought on my statements, I'd have noticed it back in 2003. (IT is now worth $7,000). They also say the order has to be redone since a couple of other coins had been sold to pay for broker/storage fees. They would need to be taken off the upcoming redo of the sale too. I knew nothing about that-am OK with that $100 loss but don't want it as an excuse to have to redo the whole order if the sale last week is otherwise binding. To sum up: They say they have a strange purchase invoice back from 2003, they have sent statements for at least 10 years reflecting those coins, legally(with 3rd party in recorded phone sale) sold my account's contents last week with those IRA coins included in the IRA sale, and now say none of that is binding. I'm wondering if that is true- and why they don't want me to see a copy of the purchasing invoice for those particular coins. (They sent me the original purchase invoices for the other coins being sold in that IRA account) I don't know if I should just give up and redo the sale less $7,000 or if they have some responsibility in all these supposed mistakes. I wish I knew if I had paid cash from my bank account for them- but F & M doesn't keep records back to 2003. The coins are clearly not in my account at Delaware Depository but don't know what really happened. Also If I"m forced to eat the whole thind and redo the sale, I shouldn't have to get the reduced gold value for the rest of the coins that I'd get today, versus the higher value of last week... I'm at a loss here of what to do.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.
I am sorry to learn of this situation, you can sue them in small claims court for this amount (CA small claims covers disputes of up to $10,000.00). This claim could cover both the "lost" coins, and the lost opportunity due to their error.I cannot guarantee an outcome - a lot of this is going to depend on evidentiary issues (but a dispute over the comparative credibility between you and the company could be easily decided in small claims court (assuming that they even decide to show up, if they do not, you can win your judgment "by default").The California Courts have an excellent self help site to assist you in pursuing a small claims case:
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks. I think Lear has as part of their initial contract that all disputes must be resolved by arbitration, so I'm not sure that small claims court can be an option. Would arbitration automatically be just for issues valued at over $10,000 and small claims can be used automatically for lesser amounts or would arbitration be required for all disuputed amounts? Also, I can't prove that I ever bought those coins since it didn't come from an IRA to Sterling/Equity and my bank statements can't go back that far to see if I paid cash for it. Could I still have a case just based on the invoice that they refuse to give me, and the Lear Statements that I do have (and a recoreded sale, which I don't have a copy of) ?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.
Arbitration is an alternative to civil litigation (so it is an alternative to small claims AND general civil court), but read the contract carefully because arbitration can only be required if the contract specifically requires it. If arbitration is required, your contract will tell you how to go about initiating a claim.I cannot tell you what the outcome of your evidentiary dispute is going to be (I cannot tell you whether or not the invoice is going to be enough), but in the course of litigation or arbitration, you can use "discovery" to get more information from the defendant to support your claim.