A couple from Randolph, Massachusetts, is facing charges alleging that they set up a Ponzi scheme targeting members of the Haitian community in Massachusetts, bilking them out of more than $5 million.
The Secretary of State's Securities Division on Monday filed an administrative complaint against Milendophe Duperier and Vanessa Joseph and their associated companies. Duperier, the son of a pastor at a local Haitian church, is alleged to have conspired with Joseph, his fiancée, to keep the scheme going for over 2-1/2 years.
It was not immediately known if Duperier and Joseph have attorneys.
According to the complaint, Duperier and Joseph solicited millions of dollars from about 40 people, including friends, family members and congregants of their churches. They also amassed over $1 million in federal Payroll Protection Program and Small Business Administration loans which were not used for their intended purposes.
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The Secretary of State's Office says the couple made "outlandish claims" to prospective investors, saying they had discovered a method to achieve profits by trading options in both bear and bull markets, though neither of them had any experience or formal training in investing. Instead, they allegedly tried to educate themselves about trading using YouTube videos and other online sources.
The complaint said Duperier and Joseph sold unregistered promissory notes to investors promising annual interest rates of 60%, paid monthly. Money raised through the sale of the unregistered were supposed to be used to fund their business ventures, including a brokerage firm, a property management company and a social media consultant company.
In reality, investigators said, they used the corporate entities to defraud the federal government out of $1.5 million in pandemic-related funds and federally sourced SBA loans, which they used to pay investors, repay personal debts and purchase personal property and real estate.
Duperier and Joseph allegedly used investor and taxpayer funds to make interest payments to cover up their scheme, but they also used that money to finance their own lifestyles. This included refinancing existing mortgages, purchasing real estate and expensive cars and paying general personal expenses.
“Duperier and Joseph used investor funds to purchase or make loan payments on multiple recent model year luxury cars, including Tesla Models X and S, a Mercedes Benz S Class, and an Infiniti QX30,” the complaint states.
The complaint filed Monday seeks an order fining Duperier and Joseph and requiring them to pay restitution to their investors. The Secretary of State's Securities Division is also seeking an immediate temporary cease and desist order.