State Auditor and Insurance Commissioner Troy Downing spoke to KGVO News on Wednesday about a settlement to Montana victims of the scam that defrauded millions of dollars from victims all over the country.

“This was obviously a broad fraud perpetrated on many Americans across the country,” began Commissioner Downing. “We had about $2.9 million in invested dollars for Montana and so those were significant losses. Essentially, it was just a fraudulent company that would prey on people's interest in diversifying portfolios into precious metals and they were just lying about what they were doing.”

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Downing said because Montana was proactive in preparing for such practices with a restitution fund already in place, but many other states were left out in the cold.

“Something that I think was pretty interesting is that we put out a press release when that first happened,” he said. “We mentioned that we had about $340,000 in restitution going to Montana victims, and other state jurisdictions cried foul and they reached out to the receiver and they were saying, ‘Well, why didn't my state's victims get restitution?’ And the answer in our press release is because we passed a law in Montana called the Restitution Assistance Fund.”

Downing was careful to note that the Restitution Assistance Fund was not funded with taxpayer dollars.

“For everybody listening, I want to make sure they all understand that this is not funded with taxpayer dollars, so no taxpayer dollars were going into this,” he said. “It's funded by industry, and they're all very supportive. When I was first running for office I said, we're going after bad actors and most in the industry believe that bad actors are bad for business. They don't like having the headlines of bad actors in their industry. So this is a place where we did get a lot of support from industry.”

Downing said the restitution was based on the age of the victims.

“Right now if you're above the age of 60, the amount that it can pay is $50,000, or 50 percent of the amount that you lost, so there's a cap, but it's still significant dollars,” he said. “However, if you've been completely wiped out, then $50,000 is a godsend. If you're under 60, the restitution amounts are smaller. It drops down to $25,000 or 25% of the amount of loss.”

Four victims received the full $50,000 restitution, while others received anywhere from just over $14,000 to nearly $30,000 in the settlement.

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