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Four Charged In Ponzi Scheme Targeting Haitians

CaribWorldNews, MIAMI, FL: Four men were yesterday slapped with charges of mail fraud and money laundering for their alleged roles in a multi-million dollar ponzi scheme targeting the South Florida Haitian-American Community.

Maxo Francois, a/k/a `Max Francois,` Jean Fritz Montinard, Aiby Pierre-Louis and Maguy Nereus, a/k/a `Maguy Jean-Louis,` were charged Wednesday with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to court documents, the investment scheme involved two businesses known as Focus Development Center, Inc. (`Focus Development`) and Focus Financial Group, Inc., a/k/a Focus Financial Associates, Inc. (`Focus Financial`), and centered around the sale of 12-month notes with a guaranteed annual return in excess of 15 percent.

To convince people to buy these notes, the defendants allegedly made presentations in churches and on local radio stations claiming that Focus Development owned and operated successful businesses and that the money raised would be used to create Haitian-American businesses and jobs and improve the Haitian-American community.

The four also apparently told investors that their principal was secure and fully refundable and that the annual return would be paid from business profits. The indictment further alleges, however, that Focus Development and its affiliated businesses never generated sufficient profits to pay annual returns in excess of 15% promised to investors.

Instead, the defendants used newly collected investor money to pay annual returns or `interest payments` promised to investors and to repay investors` principal. The indictment further alleges that the defendants misappropriated money from investors for their personal use. As a result of the scheme, the defendants raised approximately $8 million from more than 600 Haitian-Americans living in South Florida who ultimately suffered a loss of approximately $6 million.

If convicted, they each face up to 20 years on each count and fines of up to $16,000,000.

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CaribWorldNews, MIAMI, FL: Four men were yesterday slapped with charges of mail fraud and money laundering for their alleged roles in a multi-million dollar ponzi scheme targeting the South Florida Haitian-American Community.

Maxo Francois, a/k/a `Max Francois,` Jean Fritz Montinard, Aiby Pierre-Louis and Maguy Nereus, a/k/a `Maguy Jean-Louis,` were charged Wednesday with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to court documents, the investment scheme involved two businesses known as Focus Development Center, Inc. (`Focus Development`) and Focus Financial Group, Inc., a/k/a Focus Financial Associates, Inc. (`Focus Financial`), and centered around the sale of 12-month notes with a guaranteed annual return in excess of 15 percent.

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To convince people to buy these notes, the defendants allegedly made presentations in churches and on local radio stations claiming that Focus Development owned and operated successful businesses and that the money raised would be used to create Haitian-American businesses and jobs and improve the Haitian-American community.

The four also apparently told investors that their principal was secure and fully refundable and that the annual return would be paid from business profits. The indictment further alleges, however, that Focus Development and its affiliated businesses never generated sufficient profits to pay annual returns in excess of 15% promised to investors.

Instead, the defendants used newly collected investor money to pay annual returns or `interest payments` promised to investors and to repay investors` principal. The indictment further alleges that the defendants misappropriated money from investors for their personal use. As a result of the scheme, the defendants raised approximately $8 million from more than 600 Haitian-Americans living in South Florida who ultimately suffered a loss of approximately $6 million.

If convicted, they each face up to 20 years on each count and fines of up to $16,000,000.