Some of my clients have been completely devastated by frauds committed by precious metals brokers. Others have just lost a lot of money.
They are victims of a bad subset of an industry dedicated to promoting precious metals as an alternative investment to more common investments like stocks and bonds. Precious metals are marketed as particularly safe when the markets turn south, as they have in the last six months. Look up any precious metals dealer that promotes a 401(k) conversion, and, almost certainly, there will be statements and online articles hawking the value and benefits of investing in precious metals in volatile markets.