E-Sylum Feature Writer and
American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this
article on dealer Bob Higgins. Thanks!
My Friend Bob
I attended the 2011 Central States show as a table assistant working for a local coin dealer. My
boss was aware that I was at the time looking for 1792 half dismes. On April 29, He came back
to the table after visiting Certified Asset Management and told me they had a mint state example
in their inventory.
I looked at the coin, made some notes and talked with the owner. Bob Higgins was very open and
generous with information about the coin and two others he had handled.
I was aware that Higgins had been associated with Tom Noe and learned about a very
complicated pedigree involving Rare Coin Alliance and the
Cardinal coin. At his level, coins
were commodities to be traded to make a profit and a clean pedigree was irrelevant.
In a 2004 ad, Higgins stated,
(we) believe that relationships are first and foremost and are the
cornerstone of our business plan. I found him to be charming but I would not have invested
money with him.
My boss made some deals with him. I recall a time when my boss thought the premium on MS-
65 Saints was too high, He sold some to Higgins in trade for an equal number of uncertified
coins and the cash difference. They referred to the deal as
selling the air out of the certified
At the major coin shows, deals are often made with no money changing hands. On the last day of
the show, a dealer may send his table assistant around to deliver checks and pick up checks. That
was one of my jobs.
I don't remember specifics, but I think Bob may have asked us to wait a few days after a show to
deposit his check. Dealers often want to be able to deposit checks they take at a show before the
checks they write can clear. At the time we were not aware that Higgins was also slow to make
scheduled payments to his substantial investors.
Less that a year later, on March 22, 2012, FBI agents raided the Baltimore show and detained
Higgins with another dealer and seized assets of First State Depository including the 1792 half
disme. When I asked Higgins about the coin on April 20, he said it was currently
with the FBI.
The complaint, in brief, was that Higgins and his companies had deposited numismatic assets to
secure a $10 million loan and line of credit. Rather than keep those assets securely deposited,
they brought them as inventory to trade shows in violation of the loan provisions. There were
related problems with coins acquired with investor funds. In effect, Higgins did not own the
coins pledged as collateral.
I always enjoyed talking with Bob. In 2014 he told me about his new venture and the services he
would provide for his customers. I think that business was called Argent Asset Group. One of
their services was portfolio management. This was for investors who didn't want the bother of
actually looking at their coins. I don't recall talking with him after 2014.
That initial venture was not successful and Higgins filed for bankruptcy in May of 2016.
On August 12. 2022, a U.S. Attorney announced an indictment against Higgins including these
In 2012, Higgins accepted money from an investor for the purchase of silver but had no intent to
deliver on that promise and instead fraudulently used the money to operate his businesses, which
were on the verge of financial collapse, and which did collapse by approximately the end of 2012;
Higgins refused the investor's repeated demands for the full return of his approximately $828,000
Higgins ultimately met with the victim investor and lied to him about the true history of his
Higgins evaded personal income taxes for the years 2015 through 2019 by diverting Argent Asset
Group business funds to pay personal expenses, and by filing false returns with the IRS.
On October 5, 2022, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a civil
enforcement action against Robert Leroy Higgins, Argent Asset Group LLC., and First State
Depository Company LLC. They alleged fraud with a multi-million dollar precious metals
scheme and tax evasion.
On July 3, 2023, the CFTC announced a consent decree ordering Higgins and his companies to
pay $112.7 million in restitution to victims and an additional $33 million civil monetary penalty.
In addition, the order imposed a permanent trading ban.
The CFTC stated,
The orders find from approximately January 2014 through October 2022,
Higgins, Argent and FSD, acting as a common enterprise, engaged in a fraudulent and deceptive
scheme to solicit and misappropriate tens of millions of dollars in funds and silver from
approximately 200 customers in connection with a fraudulent silver leasing operation known as
The CFTC cautions that orders requiring payment of funds to victims may not result in the
recovery of any money lost because wrongdoers may not have sufficient funds or assets.
Higgins was bankrupt in 2016. Just seven years later he had converted that into a debt of 146
million dollars. I wonder how that ranks among numismatic business failures.
The Higgins story is not unique in numismatics. It might be considered almost common for
bullion repositories to engage in fraud in the management of repository accounts. There are other
examples of borrowers who pledge the same assets to secure multiple loans.
I don't believe most crooks in the business set out to be crooks in the beginning. At some point,
the ability to acquire money without exchange for a product can be a temptation that cannot be
THE BOOK BAZARRE
LIBERTY SEATED SILVER COINS.
The new 2nd edition of Q. David Bowers's Guide Book of Liberty Seated Silver Coins
is available now. 608 pages of fascinating Bowers-style coverage of half dimes, dimes, twenty-cent pieces, quarters, half dollars, Gobrecht dollars, silver dollars, and trade dollars. Order your copy online
, or call 1-800-546-2995.
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2023 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster