Deaf Community Targeted In TEP Scam
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced in release number 2011-181 that it has charged Jody Dunn from Corinth, Texas with fraud for ripping off $3.45 million from more than 7,000 deaf investors. According to the release, Dunn, who is also deaf, hustled the deaf community and promised them that they would get a return of 1.2% per day on investments with Imperia Invest IBC, an internet firm. The scam that went on for more than three years was closed down in 2010 by the SEC, when they got a court order freezing the assets of the firm. Dunn always maintained that investments for Imperia were on the up-and-up, even after the feds had issued an investor alert and charged the firm.
Imperia allegedly invested in Traded Endowment Policies (TEP). These are viatical settlements involving the sale of life policies by the insured prior to its maturing. Investors were told that they had to invest a minimum of $50, which gave them the right to get a loan for $80,000 from a foreign bank to buy a TEP. Imperia would then engage in trading the TEPs and pay investors the promised return of 1.2% a day.
According to the SEC filings, Dunn never used any of the solicited money to buy TEPs and had never known or dealt with anybody associated with Imperia, as he had represented to investors. Dunn also hustled money from investors to buy Visa debit cards through Imperia, under the pretense that this would allow them to access the proceeds from their investments. Investors were charged fees of $145 up to $450 for the cards from Imperia, who had used the Visa name and logo without permission. A cease and desist order followed. Apparently, Dunn would take funds sent him by investors through money orders and deposit into his own accounts in Costa Rica, Panama, British Virgin Islands, Cyprus and New Zealand. Then he would send what was left to Imperia.
As in virtually every scam, the majority of the money solicited by Dunn went to support his lifestyle such as paying for cars, homes, insurance, credit cards and other things. Whatever was left was sent to Imperia’s offshore accounts. Needless to say, the investors have never been paid their guaranteed returns.
Among the many allegations of the SEC, it said that even though Dunn knew Imperia lost money for investors and was delinquent in crediting its customer accounts, he never told investors and he never checked to see if Imperia had been licensed to sell securities in any states or was registered with the SEC.
The investigation was handled by Jennifer Moore and Scott Frost, with the SEC’s Salt Lake Regional Office. Mr. Dunn is said to be representing himself in the matter