VAIL, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado man and others around the country are out hundreds of thousands of dollars after winning online auctions for gold and silver coins but never receiving them.
Mike Flower, an energy services CEO from the Vail area, won nine bids on the auction website proxibid.com, spending approximately $70,000.
“It’s a great idea,” Flower said. “It allows incredible viewership as opposed to everybody picking up and going to the auction.”
Flower was trying to buy gold coins from an auctioneer called Liberty Trading, but his gold never arrived.
“I basically feel like someone stole $70,000 from me,” he said.
Flower was not alone. According to the Better Business Bureau at least 11 people from across the country claimed they are out more than $200,000.
Wisconsin resident Jim Raetmaier says he received $14,000 in silver coins from Liberty Trading but is still owed $91,000 in product. Illinois resident Corey Miller says he paid $24,043.32 for coins he never received from Liberty Trading.
Liberty Trading is located in Vandalia, Ill. On the door to its brick and mortar storefront it says it is recognized as a Top 10 auction service nationwide. But Mike Flower says every time he calls to ask for his coins, or a refund he gets a different answer.
“I’m at the point where once you’ve been lied to multiple times that you don’t give much credence to the next story,” Flower said.
Liberty Trading co-owner Tony Flowers confirms the company has not refunded Mike Flower his money.
Liberty responded “Good question” when asked what happened to the coins won in the auction.
“We had them at the time, they must have gone to another customer,” Tony Flowers said.
Flowers claimed that Liberty Trading re-supplies coins overnight and coins were always available, until the company ran into problems with its credit card company.
Sam Flowers, a relative of Tony Flowers and also a Liberty co-owner, tells St. Louis CBS station KMOV-TV: “We’re not hiding from anything. We are staying here and we are fighting it along with our customers, we are in the same boat.”
Both Liberty owners blame their credit card processing company, saying it is holding $100,000 of their money.
“These credit card processors claim we are at high risk dealing with gold and silver,” explains Sam Flowers. “So they started holding more and more money. They would pull money right out of their bank account.”
Customer Mike Flower wired his payments instead of using a credit card, which he admits was his biggest mistake.
“I could have went to the credit card company and said they didn’t deliver the items.”
Flower is now wondering if Liberty Trading ever owned the coins it auctioned off in the first place.
“You are looking at an online picture, who is to stop them from selling the same coin six, eight or 10 times?”
Proxibid.com says it conducted a background check on Liberty Trading before the auction took place and is working with that business to try to get the people their gold coins or their money back.
– Written by Mark Ackerman for CBSDenver.com