SEC: Corinth Man Defrauded Deaf Investors

Federal regulators say the scheme raised about $3.4 million in a scam targeting deaf investors

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    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seal hangs on the facade of its building in Washington, DC.

    A Texas man has been charged with securities fraud for allegedly soliciting more than $3.45 million from several thousand deaf investors as part of an insurance policy trading scheme that falsely promised big returns, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced Friday.

    The SEC accused Jody Dunn of soliciting investments for Imperia Invest IBC, which was charged last year in Utah with securities fraud and had its assets frozen by a judge.

    In a complaint filed in federal court in Plano on Thursday, the SEC said Dunn, who is deaf, solicited investments for Imperia over a three-year period and used some of the money to pay for a variety of personal expenses, including mortgage and car payments.

    Investigators said even after the SEC charged Imperia and issued an investor alert about the scheme, Dunn continued to reassure investors that the company was legitimate and they would be paid.

    "To further take advantage of others in the deaf community, Dunn was siphoning off about 10 percent of the money he collected from investors to pay his own bills before sending the rest of money into the Imperia quagmire," said Kenneth D. Israel, director of the SEC's Salt Lake Regional Office.

    Court records did not show an attorney for Dunn, who is from Corinth, about 35 miles northwest of Dallas. A listed phone number for him couldn't be found.

    SEC officials said Imperia Invest took $7 million from 14,000 investors worldwide. The company told people it was buying insurance policies at a discount just before they matured -- an obscure form of investing.

    It promised astronomical returns but never paid out any money and the whole thing was a fraud, according to the SEC.