Attorney General files investment fraud suit

CHICAGO—The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Chicago and Northern Illinois continues to see a substantial increase in the complaints from around the world with many of them from military personnel concerning an alleged investment deal involving purchasing Iraqi Dinars.

After a major investigation, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has announced her office filed a lawsuit yesterday against several related companies based on allegations they violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act and the Transmitters of Money Act by advertising the sale of Iraqi currency (Dinars) on the Internet, but failing to fulfill orders from customers.

Potential investors purportedly have bought Iraqi Dinars for anywhere between several hundred to several thousand dollars with the hope this may possibly be a lucrative investment for them if the value of the Dinars goes up. Civilian investors and service personnel are buying the Dinars but, according to the complaints, it appears the company is no longer providing the Dinars nor are they giving the potential investors their money back. Additionally, United World Exchange/U.S. Dinar has stopped responding to the BBB.

The company is allegedly selling Iraqi currency online and not providing consumers with what they have purchased. United World Exchange, doing business as U.S. Dinar, Web site——on the premise that buying the Dinars could be a great investment if the value of the Iraqi money were to increase.

According to Dennis Horton, director of the BBB Regional Office in Rockford, “We have received 154 complaints concerning United World Exchange that have come from consumers in at least 40 states and five foreign countries.” Horton went on to say many civilian contractors and soldiers serving in Iraq have also filed complaints with the BBB from abroad, and most have reported the same type of experience.

A BBB representative visited the former Chicago location; however, the address is for a company renting office space. No representative for United World Exchange was available on site.

Attorney General Madigan’s lawsuit alleges the defendants, using various names and addresses, engaged in a pattern of conduct through which they advertised the sale of Iraqi Dinars on the Internet and accepted payments from consumers, but failed to fulfill orders. Over the past two years, when the defendants received complaints from customers, they allegedly changed the name of their companies, the office address or Web site and continued their practice of selling Iraqi currency without filling prior orders.

The lawsuit also alleges the defendants failed to obtain a required Illinois license to engage in the business of selling or exchanging foreign currency for compensation. The Transmitters of Money Act requires all such sellers to be licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. None of the defendants is properly licensed.

“These companies have illegally taken advantage of consumers who are interested in investing in foreign currency,” Madigan said. “We are working to protect consumers from this conduct.”

Attorney General Madigan filed the suit against the following entities: United World Exchange, Inc., doing business as U.S. Dinar; U.S. Foreign Exchange, Inc., an Illinois LLC doing business as USFX; Mid America Trade, an Illinois LLC; U.S. Trade, LLC, a dissolved Nevada corporation; U.S. Dinar, LLC, a dissolved Illinois corporation; Samir Altaeh, also known as Samir Al-Tayeh, individually and as president of U.S. Foreign Exchange, U.S. Trade and U.S. Dinar, and also in his capacity as a manager of Mid America Trade and as agent for United World Exchange; and Joseph Beaudry, individually and as president of United World Exchange.

Madigan’s lawsuit asks the court to prohibit the defendants from engaging in the business of advertising or selling foreign currency in Illinois, and seeks restitution for those consumers who have not received their orders from defendants. The lawsuit also seeks a civil penalty of $50,000 and additional penalties of $50,000 for each violation found to have been committed with the intent to defraud. Finally, Madigan’s lawsuit asks the court to order the defendants to pay the costs of the prosecution of this case.

Horton added, “The alleged investment opportunity is especially concerning because it involves taking advantage of all investors, including our men and women who are serving in our military both overseas and in this country.”

“I encourage consumers to act carefully and be wary of companies that advertise a hot investment opportunity,” Madigan added. “Consumers should always check with our office or the Better Business Bureau about a company’s complaint history.”

Consumers who have purchased Dinars and have not received them are urged to contact the BBB office via or (815) 963-2222.

from the July 5-10, 2007, issue

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