Gabriel Chauvel and Joan Alalof Jean, a Pembroke Pines, Florida couple, are currently wanted by police for allegedly operating a housing scheme that targeted members of the Haitian community, news sources report. Chauvel, 53, and Jean, 45, have not yet been arrested for the alleged fraud. It is not known whether the pair has hired a lawyer.
According to reports, Chauvel and Jean were the owners and operators of Private Mortgage Funding Corporation, which is based off North Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. Sources say Chauvel and Jean’s advertisement were targeted at potential homebuyers in the Haitian immigrant community. Based on reports, Chauvel performed the scheme in areas such as Orlando, Broward County, and Boynton Beach. Reports allege Jean went under the alias “Joanne Charles” while making some sales. It is currently unclear whether the business is still in operation.
After they got a buyer’s attention, the couple would show the victims homes, reports say. If the potential buyers like a specified home, Chauvel and Jean would have the client sign a 90-day contract and deposit a down payment between $5,000 and $15,000. It is not clear whether Private Mortgage Funding Corp. actually had authorization to offer to sell the properties. Chauvel and Jean would accept the down payment and then tell the client that the home had been reserved, sources allege. The client’s down payment reportedly went into the couple’s bank account.
From there, buyers would either try to finalize the purchase of the home or cancel the contract, sources say. Police reportedly said that clients who wished to finalize their purchases “never received property or a house or land or anything.” There is no indication that they were ever permitted to move into the homes.
In the event the client attempted to cancel the contract within the 90-day period, Chauvel and Jean allegedly avoided the client at all costs, making it impossible for them to cancel. “They were given the runaround,” a detective spokesperson reportedly 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.”
Investigators initially heard of the alleged fraud after over a dozen victims filed complaints with police, sources indicate. Police have allegedly said there may be additional victims. An investigation is currently open, and anyone who suspects they may have fallen prey to the scheme is encouraged to contact the police department. It is unclear whether detectives will be able to recover any of the purportedly stolen deposits.
Mortgage fraud is a common problem throughout the United States. Statistics have shown Florida to be a hot spot for this and other types of fraud. In a study conducted by Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), Florida ranked second for the states with the most active mortgage fraud trials, following closely behind California. The HAMP study showed there were 80,732 active mortgage fraud trails in Florida in 2010, 24,376 less than the year before; California had 158,021 active cases in 2010.