Updated Investor Alert: Investor Warning Regarding Possible Advance Fee Fraud Targeting Deaf Investors
Aug. 1, 2011
The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is issuing this update to alert investors, including deaf investors, about “Imperia Invest IBC” and similarly-named companies. In October of 2010, the SEC obtained a temporary restraining order and emergency asset freeze against Imperia Invest IBC ("Imperia") for defrauding more than 14,000 investors worldwide. The Commission's complaint alleged Imperia raised more than $7 million, of which $4 million was collected primarily from deaf investors in the United States. The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy issued an Investor Alert at the time warning of the scheme.
This updated alert is to warn potential investors, including deaf investors, about the risk of “advance fee fraud” schemes involving companies with names similar to Imperia. Advance fee fraud gets its name from the fact that an investor is asked to pay a fee up front -- in advance of receiving any proceeds, money, stock or warrants -- in order for the deal to go through. The bogus fee may be described as a “processing fee”, a commission, regulatory fee or tax, or some other incidental expense. Sometimes, advance fee frauds brazenly target investors who have already lost money in investment schemes.
We urge investors to be skeptical of any request for an advance fee and to thoroughly research the person or group making the request.
Investors are encouraged to review the SEC publication “Ask Questions” and other SEC publications located at Investor.gov before making any investment. Some questions investors may consider asking include:
- Does it sound too good to be true? If it sounds too good to be true, it (probably) is.
- Is the investment product registered with the SEC and my state securities agency? Where can I get more information about this investment? Can I get the latest reports filed by the company with the SEC: a prospectus or offering circular, or the latest annual report and financial statements?
- Is the person making the offer registered with our state securities regulator? Have they ever been disciplined by the SEC, a state regulator, or other organization (such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) or one of the stock exchanges)?