Glenn Beck's gold-investment scam/scheme: an explanatory infographic

Jess Bachman, infographic designer extraordinaire, shares this new work which shows how Glenn Beck "uses his influence to peddle dubious information and endorse fraudulent companies, and how how those companies go about scamming fear ridden consumers into buying terrible investments."

It's a pretty epic infographic, complex and big, like much of what Jess does. I've just shown the top, oh, 20% of it above to whet your appetite.

Fools Gold: Inside the Glenn Beck Goldline Scheme (


  1. Wait, Glenn Beck is a con artist? There’s a shocker.

    In all seriousness though, thanks for this. If anyone is interested, there is plenty of information floating around about how, really, most if not all of both the gold sellers and the “cash-for-gold” buyers are basically criminals. Stay far, far away.

    1. Beck being a fraud would be based on the first two lines of the chart…They represent an extremely ridiculous line of reasoning. You could make the same statement about any person on the planet who invests in things they believe in and then goes on to talk about them.

      Note that I don’t like Beck and I think gold line is probably a fraud.

    2. I have made money off of gold i bought from bulliondirect… I decided to buy gold because Alex Jones convinced me it was a good investment, and then i researched it.

      I decided against his sponsor midas, but midas isn’t bad.

      People don’t get scammed when they buy gold, they just buy expensive gold… that is like saying you got scammed for buying your honda at the wrong car dealer because your daytime radio host says they ‘take care of you’, but someone else sold it cheaper.

      Don’t blame advertising for poor consumer decisions.

  2. Huh, really interesting graphic, not just for the Glenn-Beckosity, but also the general info about the market for gold coins and how it works. Cool!

  3. “A fool and his money are soon parted”

    My husband and I were discussing just yesterday that we want to start including our daughter (now age 6) in at least some discussions about household money. He’s very worried that too few people really understand how to make sound choices in managing their money, which makes them vulnerable to scams like this.

  4. If things ever get as bad as Beck says, I would rather have a pile of food and ammunition instead of gold. Having food & ammo means that you’re also ready for the coming zombie wars!!

    1. What makes you think lead and gold are mutually exclusive?

      I think anyone who takes investment advice from Glenn Beck is a fool, but bad advice is not illegal. Otherwise Jim Cramer would already be in prison, as would almost every talking head on financial television. How many shows were there promoting house flipping at the peak of the bubble? Will any of their hosts ever be investigated?

    2. Don’t forget to keep heirloom vegetable seeds – the standard seed packets that you buy at the market are so overbred that crops produced from them produce sterile seeds and won’t germinate. Also Coffee – keeps *fairly* well, just about everyone is addicted to it, in event of any problem affecting worldwide transportation (oil collapse, zombie apocalypse, whatever) trading value will be extraordinary.

  5. Oh yeah, what a scam, what with gold dropping all the time.

    Oh wait.

    Yeah. Look at that. Look at the 1, 2 and 5 year gold prices. Gold has tripled in the last 5 years, quadrupled in the last 10, and it’s gone up 10x since 1974.

    Glenn Beck is an ass, but on this issue he isn’t at all wrong. Gold (and Silver) is, was, and will be the best way to *preserve* wealth. Even if you were dumb enough to buy numismatic coins in 2005 (taking that 42% loss the infographic cites) say, 1 ounce for $724 (when spot was ~$420) that as *bullion* today is worth what, $1200? and unless Beck’s total collapse happens, they’re worth even more. and even then, gold you paid too much for is better than no gold and a bunch of toilet paper with dead presidents on it.

    making *any* investment based on what a talking head says during a paid commercial is ridiculous, and I would wonder how one managed to amass any amount of capital for buying gold in the first place if one did so.

    beyond all THAT, any conspiracy nut worth his salt knows damn well that if the government is going to confiscate gold in this day and age, they aren’t going to be playing by any rules while they do it. so to believe that the government is evil enough to take your gold by force yet honorable enough to make a distinction between bullion and numismatics is a non sequitur.

    fools gold? more like fools logic.

    1. LMAO – yeah believe the chart, good luck with that. I bought a house using charts on Zillow last year. It said it was worth 230K, I paid 175K, now Zillow says it is worth 170K. 60K home value drop in one year.

      What goes up – must come down, sing it with me.

      1. “What goes up – must come down, sing it with me.”

        My croaking voice would not do it justice.
        But David Clayton-Thomas, now he sings just that line, in this song:

        Ride a painted pony, let the spinning wheel turn…

  6. If the dollar is so worthless and gold is so precious, these companies wouldn’t be so eager to give you all their precious gold for your worthless dollars.

    Best argument against these gold companies I’d ever heard.

    1. true, and the same can be said of the companies that offer to buy gold from you.

      good deals on gold are like good deals on anything else – shop around, do some research, make a decision. only a fool would neglect such diligence, in which case it becomes really, really hard to feel sorry for them.

  7. ummm… Why would any future law confiscating gold be an exact copy of the 1933 EO? At the end of the day, no matter how often you spray, you’ll NEVER get rid of the gold bugs. But this is targeting dumber than average gold bugs.

  8. It’s interesting and all and clearly Goldline is a ripoff, but my question is what’s in it for Glenn? Did he invest in it himself and feels better about his stupid choice if he convinces more people to make the same mistake? Is he simply getting paid? Is he under pressure to boost a supporter?

    @nutbastard: “fools gold? more like fools logic.”

    How long you been waiting to whip out that gem? ;)

    1. “How long you been waiting to whip out that gem? ;)”

      about 12 seconds. not my best work. consider it a numismatic gem.

    2. One thing everyone should know is that the reason that goldline is so prominent is because Beck has few other advertisers. Following an advertiser alert program of Color of Change pointing out the race bating of Beck 81 advertisers pulled their ads. Then the StopBeck twitter campaign convinced another 20 to not associate their Beck’s comments.

      Because of this Beck has mostly house ads and these Goldline ads. They are one of the few that stuck with him and continue to support him in his race baiting and violent rhetoric. For some people knowing that the company supports Race baiting is reason enough not to invest.

      Right now on Fox tv Beck is subsidized. Interestingly when I asked Rupert Murdock about this he did not know the story behind Becks loss of advertisers and thought he was not subsidized. Unfortunately because of the size of Newscorp Murdock doesn’t have to break out the numbers to show he is subsidizing Beck. However I have confirmation of 101 advertisers who are not advertising. And for those of you who talk about “loss leaders” keep in mind that they are good if the revenue from the product sold are greater than the revenue lost. Could that be true of the shows following Beck? We don’t know because they don’t make that data available. But imagine telling an advertiser to pay double for an ad on a show with low rating just because they follow a hot show. They might pay more, but not double.

      Beck did get his revenge on Color of Change. Van Jones who was a co founder got fired after Beck focused on this supposed transgressions (including accepting as true a false signature on a petition. Sound familiar? Using false info to get someone fired?)
      Newscorp and Fox can afford to lose money on Beck for their own reasons, political and irrational. But they are not making the kind of money on him as his ratings would suggest. Therefore his demegogry needs to be subsidized by folks like Goldline who don’t have a problem with his race baiting.

  9. The reason that the government didn’t seize numistic gold coins in the past is that gold represents only a fraction of their value. This is equivalant to saying that they didn’t seize them in the past because they were so overpriced that only an idiot would use them as a store of value so that they were no threat to fiat dollars. The idea that in the event of dollar collapse, there would still be coin collectors willing to pay a large premium over their gold content because of their collectability is profoundly stupid on its face.

    1. Because some of those Beck/FoxNews viewers are family members. I’m not going to speculate on your relationship with your mother but I don’t want mine getting ripped off by hucksters trying to scare her by pushing the right fear buttons. Not cool.

  10. @nutbastard #5 You don’t refute the claims in the linked item regarding the difference between buying gold bullion and buying rare coins.

  11. I’m fascinated that the FCC will spend gobs of money “investigating” a pop singer’s nipple or rock star’s use of foul language, but this scam artist is allowed to operate with impunity.

    I could care less about his fever-dream, Father Coughlin-style rantings, the guy is telling people their house is on fire (when it’s not) and then selling them extinguishers. All under the guise of “journalism”.

    In a sick twist, these people blundering into the metals market may actually drive prices up, profiting more skilled (much wealthier) investors. Remember, a great many rich people got quite a bit richer AFTER the crash of ’29. It’s always a good time to cash in on the misery and failure of others.

  12. Is Beck still pushing survivalist seed banks too?

    I hope that chart someday gets used in a thesis called “The Scary Black Man Marketing Bubble and the Roots of the Triple Dip Recession.”

    * * *

    @IronEdithKidd: Shocked Kitteh climbed the wall surrounding Beck’s compound and was eaten by one of his gimps.

    1. Strange, I would’ve refered to Beck’s followers as zombies. ;-P

      Poor shocked kitteh. S/he had a good meme run.

  13. Now we just need a fabulous graphic like this demonstrating in fine detail why Beck’s latest novel THE OVERTON WINDOW is a piece of sh*t.

  14. If you buy bullion even now it would not be a bad decision, should there be a bigger stimulus there is likely to be some inflation so the physical gold would be a reasonable hedge.

    Numismatic gold is a scam, if the government bans private gold nobody will turn it in this time, we are not the trusting rubes of 1933, it will just spike the black market price price into the ionosphere.

    What is a scam is the gold buyback scams and parties which buy far below spot price. Sell for within a buck or two of spot and buy at 5-10% premium.

  15. You could flip that chart over and it would have just as much chance of being correct. Beck may simply be talking about issues that are becoming more and more important to many other Americans, including fiat currency, the gold standard and the government’s confiscation of gold 80 years ago. So, Beck talks about that stuff and then Goldline determines that it would be in their best interest to sponsor a television program where the host and many viewers might be interested in buying their product.

    So, is the Goldline sponsorship the cause of Beck’s content? Or is Beck’s content the cause of the Goldline sponsorship?

    You might think that is like asking what came first, the chicken or the egg – but at least in this case we can find out definitively by answering the following question: Was Goldline a sponsor of Beck’s program before he started talking about the founding of the U.S., the gold standard, etc?

  16. bad advice is not illegal

    Not necessarily true. If you can prove that the adviser was deliberately deceptive and you suffered damages, you’d have a case. You wouldn’t necessarily win it, but you might.

      1. If history is any indication, grossly negligent advice gets you reappointed to the Fed. If Glenn Beck’s viewers lose as much money on gold as millions of Americans did on their houses (not to mention their employment) do you think Obama will give him a call?

  17. The only fools I see here are the fools that still believe that fiat money will be around forever. There in not one fiat currency that has ever been created that did not revert to ZERO value. Gold can never be worth ZERO value.

    Beck is an idiot! but you can be much smarter and do the research on fiat money. I suggest you start with the book the Creature from Jekyll Island to see how they create money (FRN’s ( Federal Reserve Notes) ) Once you realize how this house of cards is built you will want to hedge your bets.

    I got out of stocks and bonds 20 years ago and have never looked back (stocks and bonds are valued in FRN’s) I buy only gold and silver and at the present moment I am VERY happy I did.

    This video explains some of what is going on today. It’s rather long but well worth watching. It also explains how money is created.

    1. Oh yeah…and people will notice that you have gold to spend while their money has become worthless…and they’ll follow you home…
      Or perhaps others will accept your gold to defend you from them…or maybe they’ll decide that instead of doing THAT work, they’ll just take it from you themselves.

  18. Ah, Boing Boing comments are often so entertaining.

    A few posts up we read about the arrest of the author of a botnet used for online scams, and that produces comments about “precrime” and dire warnings of innocent programmers threatened if their work just happens to be used for evil.

    Then we have a TV commenter who believes in buying a legal substance, one bought and sold all the time, and who has a sponsor that sells it, and suddenly it’s “OMG, a con, a scam, and might be illegal!!1!”

    I get it: botnet programmers get the benefit of the doubt because they’re programmers, while conservative TV commentators do not because they’re conservative.

    1. It may also be because such people have crackpot ideas, cruel ideas, ideas that deny people basic human dignity – and would even subject people to torture, and death – based upon nothing more substantial than their “feelings” about such people’s “political thinking” , or their religion, or their nation, or their race, or their sexuality, or the substances which they may use in their spare time.

      Real grade-A jerks and assholes, advocating all war, all the time, as the primary job of government.
      And also advocating for the “liberal” use of the truncheon and jail cell for those who dare to object .

      Beck’s hate speech is disgusting and vile.

    2. Well lets see, on one hand you have an inventor or manufacturer being held guilty of what a criminal chooses to do with his product, and this is some kind of left-nut stance? Aren’t conservatives really big on this point when it comes to… I dunno…. guns?

      On the other hand you’ve got a known liar who’s not afraid to use lies to sell a crap product. Hate to brake this to you buddy but “fraud” is illegal. Not to say this is fraud, Beck’s half-baked conspiracy theories about fiat, but it’s definitely starting to get close.

      Still….. being responsible for someone else’s mis-use of an innovation vs. using lies to sell junk…… and you see this as the same thing?

      1. I may be wrong, but I don’t think it’s a case of “an inventor or manufacturer being held guilty [for] what a criminal chooses to do with his product.” He (allegedly) wrote a botnet for criminals to use. It’s not like he made a crowbar and some random person happened to use it to burglarize a bank with it without his knowledge. Instead, he made a machine for burglarizing banks. He’s the equivalent of the brainy expert in the gang pulling off the heist, or the chemist who works for the heroin wholesaler. I’ve spent over a dozen years fighting internet spammers and scammers, and I want harsh penalties for people like that.

  19. Beck has few other advertisers because he is little better than a lying, slanderous criminal.

  20. Most people who take Glenn Beck’s word as gospel stopped reading that infographic somewhere around the second box… and decided to buy some gold coins. From Goldline.

  21. There in not one fiat currency that has ever been created that did not revert to ZERO value.

    Oh, I don’t know, how about THE US FRICKIN’ DOLLAR? Or for that matter, the UK pound? Or the French franc? Or the Euro? Or the Swedish krona? Or how about about a buttload of other currencies that have never gone through hyperinflation? Hell, even the Deutsche Mark always held value, it was the Reichsmark which went through hyperinflation, but Germany switched currency in 1948 and they’ve been hyperinflation-free ever since (now they’re using the Euro, obviously)

    Dude, seriously, you need better game. That sentence was just pathetic.

  22. Why does anyone still assume that gold and silver will retain value in some apocalyptic future? They’re not such terribly useful metals in terms of, say, rebuilding society. Sure they’re shiny, but will that reputation for being valuable lead to them still being valuable to folks who are looking to reestablish society with any modern trappings? And they’re certainly not nearly as rare as metals/minerals that will essential to recreating technology.

    Seems to me the folks pushing for gold are just relying on markets for its value, and those markets will be just as dead as “fiat currency”.

  23. You know, there’s a surprising number of people who are alive today who were only able to get themselves and their loved ones out of harm’s way because they had some…gold.

    Throughout history, a man’s fine quality suit of clothes has cost about one ounce of gold, and a good house, about 100 ounces.

    So…some things stay the same.
    But physical possession of the bullion is the key, if that’s the kind of “peace of mind” you like.
    It might be difficulty to ash in those redeemable-in-gold Certificates, when push goes to shove.
    And coins…pfffffft. The melt weight of 24 k is what counts!!

    But all that being said, cash is still the most convenient to possess, and in any event, to actually use your gold, you’ll have to sell it for whatever the cash equivalent is, in the situation you’re in when you need to cash out.

  24. GLD is ok for speculation, but as gold’s ultimate purpose is to protect from catastrophic events, it’s best to own it for yourself. You can’t know for sure, that GLD and others can deliver the promised gold. If a currency collapses, a bankrun is possible and they might not be able to get enough physical gold, and have to default by paying dollars of a lesser value. Same is true for banks:

  25. As a Brit., I am extremely adamant about good spelling and good grammar, therefore, I listen VERY carefully to commercials on TV and radio, listening for ‘lawyerisms’ and other ‘protective’ language. i.e., for cosmetics, “Covers the *LOOK* of fine lines”, “*CAN* lengthen your lashes so much %”, Will slim you down *WHEN YOU USE DIET AND EXERCISE!*” “*HELPS* CLEAN/STRENGTHEN your teeth”.
    Wake up people, and LISTEN to the usage of English in all these ads! They are promising you NOTHING and ads like Beck’s are just the same! The lawyers tell them how to word things, so that we believe them, but in fact, many people are fined for these kinds of lies, they just carry on, because they can afford it. The price of gold is dropping, if you didn’t sell while it was high, wait till it goes down to about $300.00 again and then buy……….. maybe.

  26. Beck spent 10-20 minutes before each commercial scaring his audience into buying gold, knowing full well that his sponsor dealt primarily in over-priced gold coins. What isn’t clear is whether he was compensated for the additional time, which would be an FCC violation. We do know that since the charge was raised, he’s stopped the extracurricular pitches, either for PR purposes or more likely, on legal advice. Goldline has also cleaned up its act, partially: The disclaimers on its website are no longer black letters on dark red (totally unreadable). The larger point of this sordid affair? Beck’s audience trusted him and he paid them with utter contempt.

  27. Since Obama has taken office the DOW has risen about 25%. If people were to invest in the nation’s industry rather than devaluing the dollar or over-priced gold, they would be much happier with their income in recent years.

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