Michael Godfree, 80, pleaded guilty to defrauding more than 100 investors out of $8.3 million through a scheme that sold “ancient slag.” For those who don't know, “ancient slag is a mining waste byproduct that supposedly contained precious metals.
From 2011 to November 2017, Godfree schemed to defraud victim-purchasers of material he identified as “ancient slag and “gold ore.”
Godfree co-founded The Minerals Acquisition Company (TMAC), a Pasadena-based outfit that offered to sell slag by telling people the company could extract precious metals from slag generated from copper mining. TMAC sold ton-quantities of the slag with promises of refining the material and recovering precious metals. TMAC provided the people with bogus attorney-certified “Certificates of Title” that purported to transfer ownership of the slag to victims.
Godfree falsely represented that TMAC was selling the valuable “ancient slag” because it contained precious metals and a process would soon be finalized and available that could extract the precious metals supposedly in the slag. But Godfree and TMAC did not own most of the slag they sold, there was not a commercially viable process for extracting precious metals from the slag, and the business operation had not been endorsed by a lawyer.
Acting on Godfree's false promises, victims sent the company money by mailing checks to the TMAC offices in Pasadena and by wiring money to accounts that Godfree controlled. Godfree used the funds to pay for his personal expenses.
In total, Godfree caused losses of approximately $8,336,965 to his victims.
TMAC was dissolved in 2015, but its operations were largely taken over by Precious Metals of North America Inc., another of Godfree's companies.