Members of the deaf community in Utah have fallen victim to a second alleged investment scam.
Regulators have filed a lawsuit against a California man who targeted deaf Christians here and in other states with promises of 5 percent to 10 percent per month in returns from trading in foreign exchange contracts.
Instead, Marc Perlman of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and his iGlobal Strategic Management LLC lost money with the funds he did invest and used most investor monies for personal expenses, according to the lawsuit filed in New York by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
The company took in at least $670,000 from at least 17 people, largely from the deaf community, including residents of Utah, California, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Oregon, Washington and Pennsylvania, according to the complaint filed Wednesday.
Perlman is deaf and used his connections in the deaf community to identify and contact potential investors, the lawsuit says.
"Perlman furthered his and iGlobal’s fraudulent scheme by playing upon the Christian faith of certain iGlobal Investors, using claims concerning his own faith and references to Scripture to obtain the trust of certain iGlobal Investors," according to the complaint.
Perlman could not be reached for comment.
In 2010, the Salt Lake City office of the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit against a company called Imperia Invest that it alleged scammed more than 14,000 people worldwide, most of them deaf, with about 500 of them in Utah.
Ken Israel, regional SEC director in Salt Lake City, said the two operations appear to be unrelated. Investigators believe Imperia Invest was run by people outside the United States, he said.
Utah has suffered in recent years from a tidal wave of so-called affinity fraud in which members of tight-knit communities are targeted by scammers who take advantage of bonds of friendship, trust and respect. Members of the dominant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the most susceptible to such frauds in Utah but other communities have been affected, as well.
Only about $305,000 of the total taken in by iGlobal from March 2009 to November 2011 went into foreign exchange trading, and nearly all of it was lost, although Perlman still claimed in statements to investors that his trading was profitable, according to the complaint.
The rest of the money went to payouts of fictitious "profits" to certain iGlobal Investors — in what’s known as a Ponzi scheme — along with cash withdrawals and charges at department, electronics and grocery stores; at restaurants; and for rent payments for Perlman’s personal residence, the lawsuit alleges.
The suit seeks fines against Perlman and restitution to investors, as well as a ban on his participation in future trading.
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