Scammer Alert: Florida Man Arrested for Swindling Haitian Community in Phony Investments
Florida officials arrested a Cape Coral man on Tuesday, Nov. 8, after he allegedly stole hundreds of thousands from at least 20 victims in phony investment scams.
Ludovic Laroche, 54, is facing charges of racketeering, securities/investments prohibited practices, embezzlement, sale of unregistered securities, and violations of the Florida Securities and Investor Protection Act, NBC2 News reported.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) began a joint investigation with The Office of Financial Regulation in 2020 after receiving a complaint. Agents confirmed that Laroche targeted the Haitian community by presenting to multiple Haitian Christian church congregations across Lee, Charlotte, and Collier counties.
In one scheme, Laroche convinced more than a dozen victims to invest funds in Laroche Real Estate Investments L.L.C. He told potential investors that he bought and flipped houses while also promising 10% annual interest on the investment. However, Laroche never bought houses to flip. According to FDLE, he bought five properties, selling four over eight years. Laroche took more than $672,000 from the victims and only repaid $93,500 to them.
An additional scheme involved telling victims he owned a taxi service, Houdini Taxi Apps L.L.C. He persuaded them to invest in the business, as well as his development of a cell phone ride-share application. The investigation revealed that he owned no taxi vehicles, and the application did not launch publicly.
In another scam, Laroche impelled a neighbor to give him $15,000 to invest in a car company, but he never purchased the stock.
Upon arrest, he was taken to Lee County Jail and remains in custody on a $149,000 bond, according to WGCU News. FDLE officials suspect more victims have been defrauded by Laroche’s deceptive shams.
The investigation is ongoing. If anyone has any information about the case, contact FDLE Fort Myers at (800)407-4880.