The SEC recently charged a Texas man, Jody Dunn, with securities fraud for soliciting more than $3.45 million from thousands of deaf investors. Dunn claimed he would invest the funds in Imperia Invest IBC, a company that allegedly raised more than $7 million from investors while promising guaranteed returns of 1.2 percent a day. Last year, the SEC charged Imperia with absconding with investor’s funds by depositing the money into foreign bank accounts and froze the company’s assets.
Dunn used the money he received from investors to pay his mortgage, car payments, car insurance, and a variety of other personal expenses. The remaining funds he sent to Imperia’s offshore bank accounts. Even after the SEC froze Imperia’s assets, Dunn continued to reassure investors that Imperia was a legitimate investment and that investors would be repaid.
According to the SEC, Imperia claimed to invest in foreign viatical settlements. Investors were required to invest at least $50, after which customers could obtain an $80,000 loan from an unspecified foreign bank that would be used to purchase one of the viatical settlements. Imperia purportedly traded the viaticals and paid a guaranteed return of 1.2 percent per day. Imperia also required investors to purchase Visa debit cards to access their investment proceeds and charged fees ranging from $145 to $450 for the cards. Visa, however, never authorized investors to use its name and trademarks on Imperia’s products.
Dunn told investors he would help them invest with Imperia, but no investor funds were used to purchase any viaticals. In fact, Dunn never met anyone affiliated with Imperia. He would ask investors to send money orders, which he would then cash and deposit into his own accounts. Then, he would electronically transfer the money to foreign accounts in places like Costa Rica, Cyprus, and New Zealand, with no apparent link to Imperia. Dunn made no effort to verify whether Imperia made the promised investments or any effort to verify Imperia’s licensure or registration with any federal or state agency.