Washington, DC — The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged an Internet-based investment company, Imperia Invest IBC (Imperia), with securities fraud for defrauding investors of $7 million, of which $4 million was primarily from victims who are deaf or have hearing loss.

In October 2010, the SEC obtained a temporary restraining order and emergency asset freeze against Imperia for defrauding more than 14,000 investors worldwide.

The SEC’s complaint alleged Imperia fraudulently raised more than $7 million, of which $4 million was collected primarily from deaf investors in the United States.

The latest alert regarding Imperia is to warn potential investors, including deaf investors, about the risk of “advance fee fraud” schemes involving companies with names similar to Imperia. Advertisements with testimonials promise generous funds for “deaf and hearing support” and require an upfront fee for processing.

In an advance fee fraud, an investor or "eligible recipiant" is asked to pay a fee in advance of receiving any proceeds, money, stock, etc, in order for the deal to go through. Once the fee is accepted via Paypal or other online service, the promised funds are never sent to the victim.

In the investment scheme, Imperia and its subcompanies have allegedly promised returns in excess of 1.2% per day. In reality, the advanced fees and investments were siphoned into foreign bank accounts, never paying any money back to victims. Imperia’s Web site stated that investors could access their profits through the purchase of a Visa debit card from Imperia for a few hundred dollars. However, Imperia has no relationship with Visa and was using the Visa name without authorization.

For more details and a sign language enhanced video of the SEC’s fraud alert, go to www.sec.gov/investor/alerts/imperia.htm

SOURCE: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)