(Scroll down to see updates) Last updated 22 February 2016
The FBI wants to hear from investors in Sterling Currency Group. They’ve set up a tip line for potential victims at 877-236-8947 and a website here.
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F.B.I. raids home and business in Brookhaven
3 June 2015
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The FBI raided a DeKalb County home and business Wednesday morning.
Our cameras were rolling at a currency exchange company on Buford Highway and a house on East Brookhaven Drive as agents removed boxes of evidence.
FBI agents, along with the Brookhaven Police Department, descended on the home before 7 a.m. and stayed through the day.
We first showed you the scene on Channel 2 Action News at Noon, and again on Channel 2 Action News at 5 p.m. as agents continued to go in and out of the home.
Agents were seen taking equipment in and removing plastic gloves when exiting the home.
All day neighbors were quiet, but curious. Some took pictures of what was happening at the corner house. Neighbors tell us businessman Ty Rhame lives in the home with his wife and young child.
Neighbors said Rhame is in the foreign currency business.
Rhame's business, Sterling Currency Group, was the location of the second raid involving Brookhaven police, the FBI and U.S. Marshals.
Channel 2’s Wendy Corona saw one marshal take a sledgehammer to Rhame's 4th floor unmarked office suite at the Druid Pointe Building.
When asked to elaborate on the details behind the search warrants and what officials were gathering in the raids, the FBI sent a statement saying they are "not in a position to discuss the details of those searches at this time."
FBI conducts search of offices of DeKalb County business, CEO
Note: video may not be viewed outside of US. If video fails to play try link.
By Melinda Roeder
3 June 2015
DEKALB COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -FBI agents conducted a search of the offices of a local business on Buford Highway in DeKalb County on Wednesday.
Agents also searched the offices of the CEO of the company.
Agents are collecting evidence from the business, which specializes in Iraqi currency and the processing of private financial transactions between the U.S. And Iraq.
The business is called Sterling Currency Group. The business specializes in check payments and wire transfers with Iraq.
FBI agents gathered evidence, including documents and computers as part of a sweeping search warrant.
Authorities also searched the Brookhaven home of Sterling's CEO, Frank Bell. Sterling operates out of the 4th floor of a commercial office complex in DeKalb County.
A woman who works at a different company on the same floor tells CBS46 that Sterling's doors were always locked and its employees seemed very secretive. In fact, there is no sign to even indicate Sterling is headquartered in the building.
The FBI will not say at this point what exactly agents are looking for, but a spokesperson says they are serving several search warrants in connection with this case.
Stay with CBS46 News as we will continue to update this story as new information becomes available.
Why choose Sterling Currency Group promotional video
UPDATE (4 June 2015): Guru Terry K detained and home raided
Related: FBI raids business selling dinars
Mendez visit the offices of Internet Management for a fraud investigation
By Marina Cobian
3 June 2015
Translated from Spanish
The raid conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, for its acronym in English) during the morning in a business that sells dinars, located on Roosevelt, Hato Rey Avenue, is related to a fraud investigation, He confirmed the press spokesman of the federal agency, Moses Quiñones.
"In general, we could say it's a case of fraud," the official told this newspaper.
He explained that a federal grand jury takes nearly a year investigating the alleged fraud which did not elaborate.
FBI agents, accompanied by the IRS and police officers in Puerto Rico, arrived at about 7:00 am at the offices of Internet Management Mendez. Quinones explained that could be there until noon.
He said that, in general, in raids seeking documents and computers.
So far, it is not anticipated that the FBI made arrests related to this intervention.
Mendez Internet Management is dedicated to the sale of dinars. The business is best known for his radio and television programs, called "The Truth About dinars", and cyber dinarespr.com page.
Since 2005 to the present it is sold on the island this coin Iraq under the allegation that "in the near future" will increase its value, as described cyber company page.
It also specifies that Internet Management Mendez sold a minimum of 1,000 dinars for $ 2. It has emerged that there are people who have bought up to $ 150,000 in these dinars.
On the other hand, last night, the owner of the company, James A. Mendez, posted on his Facebook wall a hopeful message.
"Everything is there squaring .... We will have our victory ... !!" he wrote. He accompanied the citation with a photograph that shows a light at the end of a tunnel.
UPDATE: COURT DOCUMENTS
CIVIL FORFEITURE EXPLAINED
UPDATE: Feds move to seize mansions, planes from company selling Iraqi currency
By Steve Gehlbach
10 June 2015
ATLANTA — A federal civil lawsuit to take assets from an Atlanta-based business alleges the co-founders and executives knew they were running an illegal investment scheme.
The FBI raided the offices of the Sterling Currency Group on Buford Highway last week. The company, also known as the Dinar Banker, sold investors nearly worthless Iraqi money, in the hope that the currency would eventually jump in value.
The complaint of forfeiture filed in U.S. District Court Tuesday alleges Sterling’s co-founders, Ty Rhame and Jim and Laurette Shaw, and Chief Operating Officer Frank Bell collected more than $600 million in investments since 2004, then used the money to fund extravagant lifestyles.
The government lists a $6 million Buckhead estate at the corner of Valley and Tuxedo roads as part of the scheme. Property records show it is owned by the Shaws. The feds also want to seize a Brookhaven mansion valued at about $1.5 million, other local properties, two beach houses in Panama City, Florida, three airplanes and three luxury automobiles.
The court documents detail emails between the co-founders that make it appear they were well aware they were making millions on false promises and profiting from people’s false hopes. One from Jim Shaw to Rhame about his wife reads, “She has lately been very nervous and was crying last night because she knows we are running an illegal operation.”
Atlanta defense attorney Bob Brennan, a former federal prosecutor working financial fraud cases, says lawsuits to take assets often come before an indictment and criminal charges.
“There’s an active criminal investigation, but no one’s been charged with a crime yet,” said Brennan.
The FBI wants to hear from investors in Sterling Currency Group. They’ve set up a tip line for potential victims at 877-236-8947 and a website here.
UPDATE: Feds: Buckhead mansion, planes tied to Iraq currency scheme
By J. Scott Trubey
and Willoughby Mariano
11 June 2015
ATLANTA — Sterling Currency Group’s leaders lived the high-life: mansions in Buckhead and Brookhaven, luxury cars, property along the Florida Panhandle. One even flies a private stunt plane, records state.
They trumpeted their good works, too. Tyson Rhame, an Air Force Academy graduate who lives in Brookhaven, ran a family foundation that got notice for its donations to DeKalb County schools. News accounts said his partners in Sterling, Buckhead’s James and Carol Laurette Shaw, donated 100 acres for Savannah College of Art and Design’s equestrian center. The pavilion is named in their honor.
But the business that helped bankroll their lifestyle and largess — dealing in Iraqi currency — is a scam, according to a federal complaint seeking to seize homes, cars and aircraft. And, court documents say, the philanthropists fretted about getting caught.
“We are risking serious jail time as promoters of a Ponzi scheme ...,” James Shaw wrote Rhame in a 2010 email, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. In the same email, Shaw said his wife had been “very nervous” and “crying” because “she knows we are running an illegal operation.”
Early this month, the FBI raided locations related to Sterling. No arrests have been made, nor has anyone been charged with a crime, a spokeswoman from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta said. But federal prosecutors allege that the properties and related businesses were used to defraud investors and launder proceeds.
Federal prosecutors declined further comment, except to say they are searching for possible victims.
Michael Brown, attorney for Rhame at Alston & Bird, declined to comment. Numerous attempts to reach Rhame and the Shaws were not successful. A woman who answered a phone number posted at the gate of the Shaws’ ivy-covered, $4.8 million Tuxedo Park estate said a reporter had the wrong number.
Sterling, also known as Dinar Banker, operated in the obscure and lightly regulated world of foreign currency trading, where investors take bets on whether the value of a country’s money will rise or fall. On its website, Sterling bills itself as “Your #1 Source for Buying & Selling Iraqi Dinar.”
“We believe in serving our customers with Integrity & Transparency,” it says.
The federal complaint says that Sterling used a well-known scheme. After the Iraq War began in 2003, various promoters began circulating online rumors that the U.S. Department of the Treasury planned to give the country’s currency a massive boost. When the currency was revalued, holders of dinar would get rich cashing out, the scheme goes.
Sterling was wildly successful selling hard currency, according to investigators. Since 2004, the company claimed $600 million in gross sales, the complaint says. In 2011 alone, their gross receipts totaled more than $245 million, according to the court filing.
Bundles of dinars would arrive at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport from the Middle East, then were hauled in trucks to an area office. Employees sold them via phone and online across the U.S. and Canada.
Investors could snap them up on layaway, or cash on delivery.
Dinar promoters ran chat rooms and hosted conference calls to make sure buyers were eager.
One pitchman, identified only as “TerryK” in the complaint, was secretly on Sterling’s payroll to the tune of $150,000, the complaint states.
Dinar trading was poised to go mainstream, the company suggested on its website in 2010, according to the federal complaint. Clients would be able to exchange their Iraqi currency at kiosks and “remote satellite offices” at major airports, including Atlanta, Chicago-O’Hare and New York-JFK.
And Sterling assured investors it would be a trusted supplier in an industry rife with scams. On its website, it states it is registered as a Money Service Business with the Treasury Department, has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau and “supplies a Certificate of Authenticity with every currency order that guarantees in writing that all of our currency is authentic. Our currency is legally obtained, legally transported, legally declared, and from non-criminal origin.”
“We are proud of our ‘Sterling’ reputation and the trust our customers put in us!” the website said.
The predicted currency reset never happened. Currently, it takes 1,200 dinar to equal the value of $1. These promotions have become such a concern to the FBI that it set up a webpage to field tips from possible victims.
On the day of the FBI raid, “TerryK” told investigators he made up claims that he had sources who knew the dinar was about to rise, court documents say. A Sterling executive told the FBI that such rumors were a “mythology.”
The government alleges that Sterling laundered revenues through a complex network of companies and accounts. The complaint names numerous companies and trusts said to be linked.
Alex Rue, a securities attorney and former lawyer with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said investors should be wary of claims of opportunities that are too good to be true.
“There is always an element of, ‘Why am I so lucky?’ ” Rue said.
UPDATE: 1 December 2015
OWoN: TNT Tony gets sentenced. Calls person taking video an "idiot".
TONY AT KANSAS CITY KANSAS COURT HOUSE 11/30/2015
How long does he have to stay in jail?
1 year and 1 day then 3 years probation and he can’t talk about dinar or any currencies exchanges any currencies*
* not confirmed by OWON
UPDATE: Sterling Currency Group execs indicted in $600M Iraqi dinar sale scheme
Atlanta Business Chronicle
22 February 2016
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.
Tyson Rhame and James Shaw were co-owners of Sterling, which began operations in 2004.
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.
The company said the federal government’s allegations are “inaccurate, and in some instances flatly false.”