Nombre de messages : 8252
Localisation : Canada
Opinion politique : Indépendance totale
Loisirs : Arts et Musique, Pale Ayisien
Date d'inscription : 02/03/2007
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Jeu de rôle: Maestro
|Sujet: Yon Paste Ayisyen-Meriken lan Florid vole plizye milyon dola Ayisyen parey li. Mar 30 Déc 2008 - 12:40|| |
Posted on Tue, Dec. 30, 2008
Investors say Haitian bilked them out of millions
BY PATRICK DANNER AND MICHAEL SALLAH
Federal and state regulators are investigating a self-styled investment guru who recruited hundreds of Haitian Americans and others to pour their savings into his ventures through a network of South Florida investment clubs.
Some investors claim they are victims of a massive Ponzi scheme concocted by George Theodule, a self-proclaimed evangelical minister from Haiti, who promised to double their money in three months.
A federal suit filed Friday in South Florida claims Theodule bilked hundreds of investors out of millions while promising to double their money through stock and options trading.
''Theodule said he was going to create 10,000 millionaires among the Haitian people and empower them,'' said Jared Levy, a West Palm Beach lawyer for at least 50 investors represented in the suit.
``The sad thing is, they believed him.''
For his part, Theodule, 48, didn't have much to say. ''This is just too delicate to talk about,'' he said when contacted by The Miami Herald.
He agreed to respond to questions in an e-mail through his attorney, Flynn Bertisch. However, Bertisch later called to say he advised Theodule not to comment.
The Haitian-born businessman attracted investors -- mostly Haitian Americans -- through investment clubs that he encouraged others to start in a network that grew rapidly over the past year, according to lawyers for investors.
Leaders of the clubs agreed to recruit investors -- many through their churches -- and then turn the money over to Theodore's Creative Capital Consortium.
''People came from all over, Miami, Broward, Palm Beach [counties] -- all thinking he was going to better their lives,'' said Levy.
One of the investors was Nerline Horace-Manasse, who invested $20,000 in February and another $5,000 later, after being told her money had doubled.
The Palm Beach County woman said she had planned to use the money as a down payment to buy a house or start a business.
''He used his Haitian background to reach Haitians,'' said Horace-Manasse, 30. ``He read the Bible, prayed with people. Cried with them. He made us believe he was going to help us.''
She said that when she confronted Theodule earlier this year about how he was able to double investors' money every 90 days, he became secretive. She was told sharing such information would inspire copycats and drive him out of business, she recalled.
'He got people to hand over money without a good look behind the business' curtain,'' said David A. Rothstein, a Miami lawyer who represents dozens of investors.
''It appears to be a remarkably unsophisticated fraud,'' Rothstein said. It's not clear where investors' money was invested.
Theodule is not a registered stock broker or financial advisor, according to state records.
The alleged scheme began to unravel when investors began asking for their money as the economy worsened in August, Rothstein said. Theodule told them they would have to wait until Nov. 27, according to the lawsuit.
When 40 people showed up at his headquarters in Lake Worth to collect their money in late November, Theodule didn't show up, according to Palm Beach County sheriff's reports.
Since then, 62 people have filed complaints with the state attorney general's office about Creative Capital Consortium and another company tied to Theodule.
The state Office of Financial Regulation has also launched an investigation.
The Florida attorney general's office said it referred complaints to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and the Palm Beach County state attorney's office.
A person familiar with Creative Capital Consortium said the Securities and Exchange Commission has been interviewing investors over the past several weeks. An SEC official Monday declined to comment.
Rothstein expressed confidence that investors will be able to recover some of the money they invested with Theodule, who is now an officer with The Manna Group in Duluth, Ga.
Levy said one victim cashed in her 401(k) retirement fund amounting to $35,000, and after paying the penalty, invested the rest. Most of the investors were working-class Haitian Americans who couldn't afford to lose the money they turned over to the consortium, he said.
''I had a lot of hopes and plans to do certain things with this money,'' said Widnise Francilus, 29, of Palm Springs. She claimed she lost $16,000, money she was going to use to buy a house.
``To come out with zero, it's nerve-wracking.''
© 2008 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.
Nombre de messages : 359
Localisation : USA
Loisirs : Reading
Date d'inscription : 30/01/2008
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|Sujet: Re: Yon Paste Ayisyen-Meriken lan Florid vole plizye milyon dola Ayisyen parey li. Mar 30 Déc 2008 - 15:16|| |
It appears as if many haitians still believe in santa claus. After the cooperative debacle in Haiti one would think that the community would be more careful with their hard earned money. It's a shame that a man of the cloth would commit such a crime. But, then again there was named Jesus that carried many of our brothers and sisters from the shores of Africa to America.