A district court issued an emergency order this month to freeze the assets of Imperia Invest IBC. The order came after the Securities and Exchange Commission accused the internet-based investment company of operating a securities scam involving the British version of viatical settlements.
According to the SEC, Imperia Invest IBC had raised over $7 million from more than 14,000 investors located in different parts of the world with the promise that they would earn returns of just above 1% a day. More than half of the money raised came from deaf investors in the US. The agency is seeking disgorgement of fraudulent gains, penalties, an injunction from future violations, and emergency relief for investors.
The SEC claims that the investment company solicited investors through its Web site, which stated that returns could only be accessed through a Visa credit card and purchased from Imperia for a few hundreds dollars. The company, however, did not have a business tie with the credit card company. Imperia also listed bogus addresses in Vanuatu and the Bahamas.
Investors were allegedly led to believe that their money would be used to purchase Traded Endowment Policies that involved owners selling their polices prior to maturity at a discount from face value price (but at an amount that is more than the current surrender value). The SEC says that in May 2010, one investor who had paid $500 in July 2007 received statements reporting that his account was valued at almost $44 million.
Imperia allegedly tried to hide its identity by having an anonymous browser host its Web site. Payments were processed through offshore PayPal-like bank accounts in Panama, Costa Rica, and the British Islands and then funneled to accounts in New Zealand and Cyprus.
Related Web Resources:
Alleged scam bilked many in deaf community, The Salt Lake Tribune, October 7, 2010
Internet Firm Accused Of Investment Scam; Deaf Targeted, Capital.gr, October 7, 2010