Cape Coral man faces charges of financial scams targeting Haitians in Lee, Collier and Charlotte

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A Cape Coral man is facing multiple economic crime charges after allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from 20 victims via investment scams.

Agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Ludovic Laroche, 54, on Tuesday. The charges against him include racketeering, prohibited securities/investment practices, embezzlement, selling unregistered securities, and violations of the Florida Securities and Investor Protection Act. The case was a joint investigation between FDLE and the Office of Financial Regulation.

The FDLE investigation began in 2020 after receiving a complaint. Agents said Laroche targeted the Haitian community by making presentations to several Haitian Christian congregations in Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties.

In one scheme, he urged more than a dozen victims to invest in Laroche Real Estate Investments, LLC, telling potential investors he had bought and flipped homes. He promised 10% annual interest on the investment, but agents say he never bought any houses to resell.

In eight years, he bought five properties and sold four. He collected more than $672,000 from the victims, but only reimbursed them $93,500.

In another scheme, he tricked his victims into investing in Houdini Taxi Apps, LLC by telling them he owned a taxi service and was developing a cell phone ride-sharing app. The investigation shows that Laroche never owned taxis and the app was never made available to the public.

In a third scam, Laroche convinced a neighbor to give him $15,000 to invest in an automobile business, but Laroche never bought the stock.

The investigation is ongoing and FDLE agents say there may be other victims. Anyone with information about this crime should contact FDLE Fort Myers at (800) 407-4880.

Laroche remains in Lee County Jail on $149,000 bond.

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