Police investigate couple accused of targeting Haitian community

Police say couple knowingly conducted fraudulent operations through their business

Published On: Aug 16 2013 04:23:36 PM EDT
Gabriel Chauvel Joan Alalof Jean
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -

Police are investigating two people who they say are targeting members of the Haitian community.

According to Fort Lauderdale police, the couple knowingly conducted fraudulent operations through their business, Private Mortgage Funding Corporation, located at 6750 North Andrews Avenue.

Officials said the couple sought out victims seeking housing and offered to show them numerous properties throughout Broward County.

Upon finding a desirable property, police said the victims are instructed to sign a 90-day contract and provide a down payment. The amounts of these payments range between $5,000 and $15,000.

Once the deposit is received, authorities said the victims are told that their desired property is secured and their checks are immediately deposited into the suspects' bank account.

Detectives have learned that when a victim attempts to terminate their contract within the 90-day period, the suspects refuse to return their down payments.

Police said Gabriel Chauvel, 53, was known to operate his business in Broward and Palm Beach counties, as well as Central Florida.

The second suspect, 45-year-old Joan Alalof Jean of Pembroke Pines, is known to use the alias "Joanne Charles," authorities said.

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department Economic Crimes Unit said it has received reports from at least ten victims. Detectives are concerned that there may be more victims in the community and are encouraging them to come forward.

Anyone with information regarding these incidents and suspects is asked to call Det. Erik Kirtman at 954-828-6070.