Scams and fraud targeting the Haitian community are on the rise, particularly through digital media. This article lists high-profile cases, detailing fraudulent schemes that have impacted the Haitian community in Florida, New York, and Massachusetts.
This story was produced in partnership with the McGraw Center for Business Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.
NEW YORK — Suspected and proven fraudulent schemes targeting the Haitian community seem to have mushroomed over the past few years. With the advent of digital forums and social media apps, community members say, scams are spreading widely and much quicker than they might have through word-of-mouth alone.
The following are a few high-profile cases, from the highest to lowest amounts reportedly amassed, as documented in court records. The list focuses on alleged and proven scams based in the three states with the most Haitians – Florida, New York and Massachusetts.
Advance loans to personal injury clients used in Ponzi
- Key people involved: Judith Dianne Paris-Pinder
- Location: Biscayne Park / North Miami, FL
- Time active: At least 2019 to 2021
- Unlawful actions alleged: Pinder offered loan agreements to investors promising returns of up to 50%, within 30 to 90 days, claimed funds would be used to make advance loans to personal injury clients, and used investor funds to make Ponzi-like distributions to other investors.
- Legal charges/violations: Violating the Securities Act, antifraud provisions of various laws
- Amounts amassed: $4.6 million from 280 people
- Latest status: Pled guilty to wire fraud, sentenced to 4 years in prison time, 3 years of supervised release, 200 hours of community service, and $2.4 million in restitution
- Case details: Read more about the case from the SEC and federal prosecutors
Illegal nursing licenses, transcripts sold to 7,600 people
- Key people allegedly involved: Nearly 30 people in Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, including: Johanah Napoleon, Patrlck Nwaoku, Geralda Adrien, Woosvelt Predestin, Eugene Sanon, Charles Etienne; Stanton Witherspoon, Alfred Sellu, Rene Bernadel, Gail Russ; Cheryl Stanley, Krystal Lopez, Ricky Riley, Norberto Lopez, Damian Lopez, Francois Legagneur, Reynoso Seide, Cassandre Jean, Yelva Saint Preux, Evangeline Naissant, Rony Michel, Vilaire Duroseau, Yvrose Thermitus a/k/a “Yvrose Thompson”, Ludnie Jean, Serge Jean, Simon Itaman, Anna Itaman, Rhomy Louis, and Nadege Auguste
- Location: Florida, New York, New Jersey, Texas
- Time active: Varies by school, from November 2017 to November 2022
- Unlawful actions alleged: Defendants sold at least 7,600 fraudulent nursing degree diplomas and transcripts — for registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/VNs) — obtained from nursing schools in Florida, charging thousands for each
- Legal charges/violations: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud
- Amounts amassed: At least $3.2 million
- Latest status: Varies by state/defendant role; Napoleon pled guilty, sentencing set for Mar. 22
- Case details:Read more about the case on Justice.gov
COVID-19 programs and citizenship fraud
- Key people involved: Joff Stenn Wroy Philossaint
- Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Time active: April 2020 through May 2021
- Unlawful actions alleged: Submitted fraudulent applications on behalf of 11 businesses seeking COVID-19 relief, lied to immigration officials about participating in any crimes during an interview to become a U.S. citizen
- Amounts amassed: $3 million
- Legal charges/violations: Conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to launder money in connection with COVID-19 relief, procuring naturalization contrary to law
- Latest status: Pled guilty on wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges; jury found guilty on the immigration charge; sentencing set for March 29, faces de-naturalization
- Case details: Read more from the U.S. Attorney’s Office – Southern District of Florida
Chalala Academy/Lendvesting “investment programs” in West Palm Beach
- Key people involved: Alexandra Robert
- Location: West Palm Beach, FL
- Time active: May 2020 through August 2021
- Unlawful actions alleged: Offered “investment programs” – with “risk-free” investments of up to 48% returns – that would be used for loans to small business borrowers
- Amounts amassed: $900,000 from 80+ investors
- Legal charges/violations: Securities fraud, misappropriation of $200,000 of investor funds, used of investor funds to make Ponzi-like distributions
- Latest status: Robert made no admission or denial of guilt, ordered to pay $470,000 restitution
- Case details: Read more in the SEC complaint and The Haitian Times
Brothers Investment Group: Seed money for development projects in Haiti
- Key people involved: Anson Jean-Pierre
- Location: Miami / Hialeah, FL
- Time active: August 2017 to November 2018
- Unlawful actions alleged: Solicited people to invest $3,800 in “seed money” for Haiti development projects (i.e., agro-business, real estate/eco-tourism, renewable energy) whose profits he promised to share, but only 55% of the money went toward projects
- Legal charges/violations: Various Securities laws
- Amounts amassed: $794,000
- Latest status: In March 2022, Brothers found liable in a civil suit and Jean-Pierre was ordered to pay nearly $1.5 million to the SEC
- Case details: Read more about the case from The Haitian Times
Southwest Florida property flipping, Houdini Taxi
- Key people involved: Ludovic Laroche
- Location: Cape Coral, FL
- Time active: Unclear
- Unlawful actions alleged: Solicited people, often through financial presentations at area churches, to invest in real estate, fund a ride-share app and other ventures under false pretenses
- Legal charges/violations: Racketeering, securities/investments prohibited practices, embezzlement, sale of unregistered securities, among others
- Amounts amassed: $672,000 from 20 investors, repaid $93,500
- Latest status: In 2021, consent judgments issued in six lawsuits for Ludovic to return various amounts ranging from $15,000 to $37,000 to the investors who sued him
- Case details: Read more about the case from Black Enterprise and local outlet WGCU
EminiFX cryptocurrency and forex trading
- Key people involved: Eddy Alexandre
- Location: Valley Stream, Nassau County, New York
- Time active: September 2021 to May 2022
- Unlawful actions alleged: Falsely promised nearly 62,000 investors they could make money trading in cryptocurrencies and foreign exchange assets using his robot-assisted technology, promising them 5% to 9.99% returns each week; however, he faked the returns people saw on his platform, traded other instruments that were not crypto or forex, and used members’ funds to pay other investors who requested withdrawals “in a Ponzi-like fashion”
- Amounts amassed: $120 million to $250 million
- Legal charges/violations: Commodities fraud, wire fraud
- Latest status: Alexandre pled guilty/awaits sentencing, return of money to investors pending
- Case details: Read more in The Haitian Times
Stock trading, franchise schemes targeting upstate NY Haitians
- Key people involved: Ruless Pierre
- Location: Nanuet, Rockland County, New York
- Time active: November 2016 to October 2019
- Unlawful actions alleged: Promised investors 20% return every 60 days through stock trading; offered partnership interests in three fast-food franchises, whose revenue he used to pay investors in the stock trading scheme; embezzled money from two hotels where he worked as a director of finance
- Amounts amassed: $2 million from 100+ investors
- Legal charges/violations: Franchise investment fraud, embezzlement, structuring
- Latest status: Pierre sentenced to 7 years in prison, forfeited $3.7 million, ordered to pay restitution $2 million to victims
- Case details: Read more about the case from the Rockland County Prosecutor’s Office
Couple targets Massachusetts Haitian community with Ponzi scheme
- Key people involved: Milendophe Duperier, Vanessa Joseph
- Location: Randolph, Massachusetts
- Time active: Between 2019 and late 2022
- Unlawful actions alleged: Solicited millions of dollars from about 40 people, including friends, family members and congregants of their churches, misused federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and Small Business Administration loans
- Legal charges/violations: Unclear
- Amounts amassed: $5 million+
- Latest status: Unclear; Duperier filed for bankruptcy Feb. 14
- Case details: Read more about the case from NBC Boston
Information gathered from U.S. court records available online.
If you know of or suspect a fraudulent scheme is targeting Haitians, contact the CFTC or your state or local authorities.
Mw bezwen Yon sponsò poum deplase pou pwoblèm ensekirite
Insecuriti the pays
Bandi te touye papam frem
Mwen menm avek manman’m nou te oblije vann ti sa nou gnyen poum teka vin chache yon lavi miyò nan brezil jis kounya manman’m pagn kay lap domi anba yon tanto paske bandi te Boulevard kay li
Have you checked on Tagmoon, Tag protocol?
Did you do your research about the eminifx case before you write it?
It is important to investigate current cases that allegedly involve USCIS employees asking US Haitian Sponsors applicants of the Biden Humanitarian Parole to pay $700 per Haitian applicant to ensure that their application be prioritized. (Not first come, first served, or needs basis). Please investigate this unlawful situation. Thank you. Keep up the good work.
Hi dear immigration manager I am Gabriel Nelson truck driver and loudspeaker and automobile operator I have a lot of experience in the areas I learned I have everything I need to live but I do not live because of the political situation in Haiti how can you help me get a sponsor from you
We, as a community, should be united in the fight against scams that target our own people. The recent reports of fraudulent activities, ranging from illegal nursing licenses to crypto schemes preying on hardworking people, are a stark reminder of the need for vigilance and caution.
We must do everything we can to protect our community from these scammers who seek to take advantage of the most vulnerable of us.
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