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3 coin dealers charged with fraud in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Federal prosecutors have charged three Minnesota coin dealers in unrelated fraud cases totaling $2 million.

Dennis Helmer, 53, of Farmington, 44-year-old Tory Hughes of Minneapolis and 55-year-old Chrysanthos Nicholas of Mettituck, New York, were charged Monday.

Prosecutors say Helmer scammed $1.2 million from mostly elderly people who sent him coins, money and precious metals. He's charged with 16 counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud.

The state Commerce Department says his case is the first significant investigation since 2013, when Minnesota became the first state to legislate coin-dealing regulations.

Hughes faces one charge of mail fraud in a similar $600,000 scheme. Prosecutors say Nicholas defrauded a Merrifield client of $200,000.

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