Sterling Currency Group execs indicted in $600M Iraqi dinar sale scheme
Executives and promoters of Atlanta-based Sterling Currency Group LLC were indicted Monday for their roles in an alleged $600 million scheme to fraudulently induce investors into buying the Iraqi dinar.
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the indictment, and other information presented in court: During the scope of the conspiracy, the Iraqi dinar was touted by some as a potential investment opportunity. Information publicly available on certain internet websites, blogs, chat rooms, and conference calls fueled this speculation by predicting that a “revaluation” of the Iraqi dinar would occur imminently. A “revaluation” or “RV,” in this context, meant a sudden, exponential rise in the value of the Iraqi dinar as compared to the U.S. dollar and other relatively stable global currencies. Individuals who owned Iraqi dinar would realize potentially enormous gains if an “RV” ever occurred in this manner.
Sterling Currency Group, which also did business as Sterling Online Processing Services LLC and Dinar Banker, was a Georgia corporation with its principal place of business in Atlanta. Sterling sold and exchanged so-called “exotic currencies,” including most predominantly the Iraqi dinar.
Frank Bell began working for Sterling in 2010 and became Sterling’s chief operating officer in 2011.
According to the indictment, Terrence Keller, who was also known as “TerryK,” led an Internet-based group known as “The GET Team,” which consisted of a website, an internet chat forum and weekly conference calls in which, among other things, information was disseminated to participants concerning the potential investment value of the Iraqi dinar.
Keller, through The GET Team, was one of the leading internet-based proponents of the “RV” theory. On The GET Team’s website, internet chat forum, and on weekly conference calls, Keller is alleged to have falsely claimed to have information from, and verified by, high-level confidential sources in the U.S. government, the Iraqi government, international organizations, and major financial institutions, regarding an imminent “RV.”
However, Keller did not have information from, or contact with, these supposed high-level confidential sources. The indictment alleges Keller, Rhame, Shaw, and Bell knew and believed that representations concerning an imminent “RV” of the Iraqi dinar, particularly claims that the information came from one or more supposed high-level confidential sources, would boost sales for Sterling.
Keller allegedly claimed, directly and indirectly, to The GET Team followers he had no financial or other ulterior motive to promote the Iraqi dinar as an investment, but he was simply disseminating his knowledge and information so that others could benefit from it as well. To that end, Keller told his followers he did not make substantial profits from his dealings with Sterling and other dinar dealers that advertised with the GET Team.
Keller allegedly had a secret arrangement with Rhame, Shaw and Bell to promote and “pump” the Iraqi dinar in exchange for payments made by Sterling to benefit Keller. Since at least as early as August 2011, Sterling paid Keller more than $160,000. Keller consistently downplayed these financial benefits to his followers and listeners.
The correlation between Sterling’s increased sales and Keller’s promotion of the Iraqi dinar was allegedly further cemented by the presence of a Sterling representative, including at times Rhame and Bell, on The GET Team’s conference calls and internet forums.
At various times, Rhame, Bell and other Sterling representatives participated in conference calls and internet forums in which Keller made representations to followers concerning the imminent Iraqi dinar “RV,” his access to high-level confidential sources, and claims that he was just trying to be helpful and received no financial benefit for providing this information to others. The presence and participation of Rhame, Bell, and other Sterling representatives on The GET Team’s conference calls and internet forums provided further validation to followers that Keller’s claims about an imminent “RV” of the Iraqi dinar should be believed.
The indictment alleges the promotional activities of Keller and other dinar promoters were essential to Sterling’s financial success and generated Sterling millions of dollars in dinar and other currency sales.
In December 2010, Rhame is alleged to have told colleagues that Keller and the GET Team pushed 80 percent of Sterling’s business. In December 2011, Bell is alleged to have referred to the GET Team as Sterling’s “largest referrer.”
Between 2010 and June 2015, Sterling grossed more than $600 million in revenue from the sale of the Iraqi dinar and other currencies. During this same time period, Rhame and Shaw received more than $180 million in distributions from Sterling.
Tyson Rhame, 51, and James Shaw, 53, both of Atlanta, Frank Bell, 54, of Decatur, Ga., and Terrence Keller, 55, of Grayson, Ky., are each charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud as well as several counts of mail fraud and wire fraud.
Rhame and Shaw are also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts of money laundering.
The indictment also includes criminal forfeiture listing numerous assets to which the defendants may have an interest. Specifically, the government is seeking the forfeiture of millions of dollars held in financial accounts, foreign currencies, three private airplanes, three automobiles, numerous corporate and trust entities, as well as real property in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and Iowa.