GARDINER — Maine securities regulators are warning investors to be wary of a scam involving a company that promises big payouts that fail to materialize.

State officials have also issued a cease and desist order prohibiting Imperia Invest IBC from soliciting Maine investors through offers of unregistered securities. Officials believe the company is located on the island nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean.

Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw says those being swindled are consumers who utilize online chat sites that focus on people who are deaf. Investigators were contacted by a Maine resident who reported a friend had invested $1,000 in Imperia in January after being promised a multimillion dollar payout within six months.