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Feds charge PBC woman in $1M ponzi scheme targeting Haitians

MIAMI — A Palm Beach County woman of Haitian descent fraudulently racked up more than $900,000 from 80 investors, most of them Haitians in South Florida, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Suspect Alexandra Robert, 23, used some of the funds to invest in cryptocurrency for herself and to pay for her rent, car and college courses as well as hair and beauty products and cosmetic surgery. 

The July 26 SEC complaint alleges that Robert and her two companies — Chalala Academy LLC, based in Boynton Beach, and Lendvesting Academy Corp., based in West Palm Beach — offered “investment programs” with “risk-free” investments of up to 48% returns in 2020 and 2021. The so-called programs were to make loans to small business borrowers who did not qualify through traditional lenders. 

On social media, Robert and her companies posted videos in Creole saying they raised more than $4 million from 1,000 investors and paid $2.6 million to investors. In her investment agreement, Robert claimed to provide apps, loan servicing, business consulting, website creation and social media services to the small businesses.

Robert, of Lantana, told investors her companies would pay guaranteed “extremely high” investment returns from underwriting loans to small businesses. However, instead of generating returns, Robert allegedly misappropriated investor funds using them to make distributions to other investors — a ponzi scheme. 

Most people who gave her money were referred to Robert by word of mouth in the South Florida Haitian community and social media sites, according to the SEC. 

In the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, federal prosecutors laid out in a table (shown below) how Robert misappropriated some of the funds collected for personal expenses, including $90,000 in a cryptocurrency investment.

This is the latest in a series of ponzi schemes that have impacted the Haitian American community over the years. In May, Eddy Alexandre, a Long Island man, was accused of running a $59 million cryptocurrency and foreign exchange Ponzi scheme whose victims included Haitians in Florida. In 2021, Ruless Pierre, of New York, was convicted of two counts of securities fraud for running an “investment club” called Amongst Friends. In 2014, George Louis Theodule, was sentenced to federal prison for scamming $30 million from people in South Florida’s Haitian community. 

The SEC seeks permanent injunctive relief, an order to cease an action, disgorgement of allegedly ill-gotten gains, or repayment of ill-received funds, and prejudgment interest, which compensates those impacted before a judgment is rendered against Robert. The officer-and-director level of charges she faces is one of the most severe sanctions in fraud, putting an end instantly to any future work in a public sector organization.

The SEC’s investigation was part of the Miami Regional Office’s Fraud Against Minority Groups Initiative.

Robert’s current whereabouts are unknown as of this report.

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