Broward County

Scammers swindle thousands of dollars in fraudulent South Florida housing scheme

Fort Lauderdale police are investigating a South Florida couple they say bilked people out of thousands of dollars in a fraudulent housing scheme.

Police say Gabriel Chauvel, 53 and Joan Alalof Jean, 45, set up a business called the Private Mortgage Funding Corporation at 6750 North Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, then used it to dupe people into forking over large down payments for housing they never actually received.

The couple targeted the local Haitian commmunity. They would offer to show victims properties in Broward County, then demand they sign a 90-day contract and make a down payment of between $5,000 and $15,000, according to a police news release.

Victims paid up – and Chauvel and Jean immediately deposited their checks – but the home-seekers never got anything in return, and when they tried to end their contracts, the couple refused to return their down payments.

Chauvel has also done business in Palm Beach County and Central Florida, and Jean is a Pembroke Pines resident who sometimes goes by the name Joanne Charles, according to the news release.

Detectives have taken complaints from at least 10 victims and believe there are more.

They have asked anyone with information to call Detective Erik Kirtman at 954-828-6070.