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Fortress Gold Group is a precious metals dealer that claims to offer IRA services through a partnered custodian. However, the company has not accepted new customers for several years. In addition, past customers say they've had trouble getting in contact with the management about ongoing issues.
So what exactly is the history of Fortress Gold Group? And what exactly went wrong with its management?
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About Fortress Gold Group
Fortress Gold Group is a California-based company that sells precious metals. Like many other companies, it offers some IRA services. The company was first founded in 1995 and transitioned into being a private corporation in 2007. While it is no longer accepting new customers, it does still seem to exist.
That isn't to say that there are any services currently offered. In fact, it's impossible to get in contact with anyone behind the company. But there was never official paperwork filed to declare bankruptcy or dissolve the corporation. As such, there is still an active page on the Better Business Bureau website.
When the company was working with customers, it offered all four main types of precious metals: palladium, platinum, gold, and silver. Customers could buy bars and coins. Many of these items were eligible to place into an IRA. Since there are strict IRS regulations regarding precious metals IRAs, Fortress Gold Group helped people choose purchases for their retirement accounts.
The company worked with custodial services to create IRAs. Every IRA is required to be maintained by a licensed custodian. According to past reviews, the company worked with Equity Trust. It's unclear whether they had any other main custodial partners as well.
Storage options were available through Brinks Global Services. Brinks is a reputable company that has depositories throughout the globe. Fortress Gold Group allowed customers to store their items in depositories in Salt Lake City, New York, or Los Angeles. It's unclear whether they offered any international storage options.
International storage is sometimes preferred by certain investors. Depositories can be opened in tax shelters, where your assets are kept private and secure. That way, you know that your items are safe from the global banking system and potential seizure by the government. They're also fully insured, so they're safe from theft, flood, and other disasters as well.
Prior to the company suddenly shutting down, it had largely good reviews. The reviews on Trustlink from 2010 through 2012 are all extremely positive. People say that they had an easy time investing, that the salespeople were knowledgeable, and that they were pleased with the overall quality of service.
Trustlink's customer reviews give Fortress Gold Group an extremely high rating. But the last Trustlink review was posted in 2015. It seems like something went wrong from 2016 onward, judging by the company's decline and sudden closure. One customer has claimed that the company drained their entire account, removing tens of thousands of dollars.
The company owner, Christopher Kline, seems to have moved on to other things. He won't respond to any inquiries about Fortress Gold Group. Even attorneys have been unable to get in contact with him.
Chris Kline does have a Linkedin, though. It's active, and it indicates that he was the original owner of Fortress Gold Group. Now he has moved on to being the co-founder of Bitcoin IRA. He seems to have made some effort to scrub his association with Fortress Gold from his account, but not well enough.
Bitcoin IRA has over 50,000 followers on Linkedin. The company says that it is the first company dedicated to cryptocurrency retirement accounts. You can legally hold various cryptocurrency in a digital wallet IRA, provided you adhere to IRS regulations regarding storage.
Bitcoin IRA was started in 2016, around the same time that things at Fortress Gold Group seemed to go downhill. The technology platform is one of the largest crypto retirement companies in existence, with over 100,000 users. Given the wild success, it's strange that the co-founder doesn't appear interested in contacting past customers about their problems with Fortress Gold.
This isn't to say that anything is wrong with the Bitcoin IRA company. It is extremely well-reviewed and appears to be perfectly legitimate. This is just a curious question about what the co-founder has been up to. Did he sell Fortress Gold Group to another owner in order to launch Bitcoin IRA? If so, is the new owner responsible for the changes?
There have never been any official announcements about changes of ownership at Fortress Gold. But the company doesn't seem to have many official announcements of anything. Their sudden closure certainly took a large number of their existing clients totally by surprise.
Is Fortress Gold Group a Scam?
Fortress Gold Group isn't accepting any new clients. Many people have said that they felt blindsided by this sudden announcement. In addition, some customers have said that they never received a response from the customer service email they were told to contact.
Despite no longer accepting new clients, Fortress Gold Group does still have a page with the Better Business Bureau. The company is not accredited. It also has a B- rating because it didn't respond to a complaint filed. There doesn't seem to be any interest in taking accountability from the former management.
There is also one customer review on the BBB website, which gives 1 out of 5 stars. This customer accuses the company of running a scam that lost her thousands of dollars. However, there is no way to prove that this allegation is true.
The complaint was about the sudden closure of the business. The customer said that they needed to talk to someone from Fortress Gold. Their attorney had also made an attempt to contact the company, but they had never received a response.
Let's take a look at the details of the customer review that claims to have been scammed by the company. Again, all of these allegations are unproven, and the company does not seem to have any impending government actions or investigations against it.
This review was written by the wife of the customer. The customer rolled over a pension of over $38,000 into gold and silver coins. That was back in 2012. The customer was told that the purchase would cost a little over $10,000, and that the other $28,000 would go into a separate account to pay maintenance expenses.
The reviewer said that she did not sign any paperwork that agreed to this. Within six years, all of the money in the account was gone. That includes the money that was supposed to pay for storage and maintenance. Meanwhile, the coins themselves had dropped in value to less than $10,000.
The customer repeatedly tried to get in contact with the company. However, no representative ever picked up or called them back.
When the customer retired, he got in contact with Equity Institutional, which was the custodian of the account. He asked to have all of his coins withdrawn and removed. But the shipment of coins never arrived. Equity Institutional claimed that a shipment had been sent and delivered, but the customer never received it.
This is an issue with Equity Institutional, which operates separately from Fortress Gold Group. It doesn't really have any meaning for Fortress Gold. However, it does raise questions about the responsibility of the companies that Fortress Gold partnered with.
The wife said that if any of her statement was incorrect, she had no way of knowing. There was no way to get in contact with the owner of Fortress Gold. No one ever replied to this review, indicating that the people in charge of Fortress Gold didn't have any interest in rectifying the situation.
That's a loss of almost $40,000. There's not any proof that this happened. But no one at Fortress Gold has ever refuted the statement. And the sudden closure of the company and disappearance of the management seems to indicate something sinister happening.
Pros & Cons of Fortress Gold Group
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Fortress Gold Group is all the unanswered questions. This company definitely used to operate in a legitimate capacity. Many of the reviews from the early 2010s are extremely positive. But something seems to have changed over the past several years.
Fortress Gold mysteriously closed down without explanation. They did not tell their customers why they were closing the doors. They provided old customers an email to contact in case of needing help, but multiple customers stated that they were unable to reach anyone. In fact, even the lawyers for some past customers couldn't get in contact with the management.
One past customer accused the people at Fortress Gold of stealing her husband's $38,000 pension. They invested in coins worth $10,000 and then drained the remaining money without any information about what the funds went toward. Then the coins were never delivered to the customers when they took physical possession of their holdings.
There's no proof that this really happened. But this is an extremely serious accusation, and Fortress Gold Group has never responded to it. If there is any element of falsehood, there's no way to tell. It seems like a company with nothing to hide should be better at communicating with its customers.
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