Saturday, August 17, 2013

Couple sought in housing scheme that targeted Florida's Haitian community

Fort Lauderdale Police are searching for a couple accused of targeting members of the Haitian community in a home-buying scheme.

Gabriel Chauvel, 53, and Joan Alalof Jean, 45, ran Private Mortgage Funding Corp. at 6750 N. Andrews Ave., police said. Their advertising focused on the Haitian community, especially those looking to buy a home.

Chauvel and Jean offered to show several properties. When the buyers found a home they liked, they were told to sign a 90-day contract and provide a down payment of between $5,000 and $15,000, investigators said.

Once the down payment was received, the buyers were told that their chosen property had been secured and their checks were immediately deposited into the couple's bank account. If buyers tried to terminate their contract within the 90-day period, the couple failed to return the down payments, Detective DeAnna Greenlaw said.

"They were given the runaround," she said. "They were told to come to the office [but] the office was locked and no one was there [and] they could never get in touch with anyone."

Chauvel did deals in Broward, Boynton Beach and Orlando. Jean, of Pembroke Pines, also uses the alias "Joanne Charles," investigators said.

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