by Brian Mahany
Last November I ran a post called “How Low Can You Go?” in which I described a Texas man accused of stealing real estate from the dead and disabled. Apparently Texas has produced another entrant for this year’s prize, Jody Dunn. The SEC has charged Dunn with ripping off over 7000 deaf people. In an unusual twist, authorities say Dunn is deaf himself.
According to the complaint filed in a Plano, Texas federal court on September 8th, Dunn solicited people to invest in a company called Imperia Invest IBC. Imperia is an Internet based company apparently based in the Bahamas. Bahamian regulators said as far back as 2009 that Imperia’s address was fictitious and that it wasn’t licensed there. That didn’t stop Dunn or Imperia from raising money, however.
The SEC says that Dunn raised millions from deaf investors by promising above market rates of return of 438% per year! Above market returns? 438% equates to 1.2% per day!
Dunn told investors that their money would me invested in “traded endowment policies.” According to the SEC, none of the money went into traded endowment policies. Where did the money go? Into Imperia’s offshore accounts and Dunn’s pocket.
Dunn is alleged to have used investor money to pay his personal mortgage and car payments.
What are the lessons here?
Obviously, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Interest of 438% – need I say more?
Second, don’t invest unless you fully understand the nature of the investment. I suspect that most of the investors have never heard of a traded-endowment policy. I certainly haven’t. Fraudsters often get people to invest by making them think they are part of the elite or the “big boys.” Fancy terms and unusual investments are frequent red flags.
Fraudsters often get people to let their guard down by claiming to be part of the same group or church. This is called affinity fraud. Dunn got many deaf people to invest by being deaf himself. Black, White, Christian, deaf or elderly, crime knows no religious, age or other boundaries. There are bad deaf people just like every other group in society.
Finally, spend a few minutes to perform a little due diligence. Call your local securities regulator and find out if the investment AND the person selling are it registered. Imperia was apparently nothing more than an offshore bank account and website.
Getting money from Dunn will likely be difficult. When dealing with a stockbroker, accountant, insurance agent or financial planner, there may be insurance or a “deep pocket” to cover your loss. When dealing with an unlicensed individual such as Dunn, full recovery is often impossible.
With appropriate documentation it should be possible to have the IRS declare this a fraud loss. Small consolation for people who lost their life savings.
If you lost money through a stockbroker, financial planner or other financial professional, call us. Our asset recovery lawyers help people get back their hard earned money. For a confidential consultation, call attorney Brian Mahany at (direct) or by email at
Mahany & Ertl, LLC -America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan and Portland, Maine. Services available nationwide.