Securities and Exchange Commission v. Alexandra Robert et al. was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida on July 26, 2022, claiming violations of several provisions of the Securities Act and Securities Exchange Act. Specifically, the SEC seeks permanent injunctive relief against all Defendants in order to prevent future violations of the federal securities laws, disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains, and civil damages.

The SEC brought this action against Defendants Alexandra Robert (“Robert”), the owner, founder, and CEO of Defendants Chalala Academy LLC (“Chalala”), a Florida limited liability company, and Lendvesting Academy Corp. (“Lendvesting”), a Florida-registered corporation formerly operating as a d/b/a of Chalala.

The complaint alleges from at least May 2020 through August 2021, Defendants fraudulently raised approximately $900,000 from roughly 80 investors, mostly Haitian and Haitian-Americans living in South Florida, by offering unregistered “investment programs” falsely promising guaranteed returns of up to 48%. Defendants falsely told investors that they would make interest generating loans to small businesses that would otherwise not qualify for traditional financing, thereby providing investors with high fixed returns.

The SEC alleges Defendant Chalala advertised itself online and via social media outlets as “a zero-risk investment company based in West Palm Beach Florida . . . guarantee[ing] investors extremely high returns.” Defendants also posted promotional videos on a social media platform in Haitian Creole encouraging users to invest and relied on word-of-mouth referrals from other investors as well as members of the local South Florida Haitian/Haitian-American community.

In order to carry out the scheme, Defendants made material misrepresentations to investors, publicly claiming, among other things, to have raised in excess of $4 million from over 1,000 investors. However, Defendants grossly misrepresented to investors the investor pool size, Defendants’ investment experience, the amount of capital raised and profits distributed, investment risks, and the source of the “guaranteed” returns. Instead of executing an investment strategy designed to generate the promised returns, Defendants misappropriated approximately $200,000 of investor funds and used other investor funds to make Ponzi-like distributions.

The complaint alleges that in early 2021, Defendants struggled to pay investors their promised returns, causing some investors to lose both investment principal and expected interest payments. The complaint further alleges that Defendant Robert applied for, but did not secure, a $100,000 business loan with a lender in an attempt to cover the shortfall in January of 2021. Thereafter, the Scheme collapsed in early 2021.

The complaint seeks permanent injunctive relief and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and asserts seven claims of relief against Defendants for violations of: (i) Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act, 15 U.S.C. § 77e; (ii) Section 17(a)(1) of the Securities Act, 15 U.S.C. § 77q(a)(1); (iii) Section 17(a)(2) of the Securities Act, 15 U.S.C. § 77q(a)(2); (iv) Section 17(a)(3) of the Securities Act, 15 U.S.C. § 77q(a)(3); (v) Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5(a) of the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. § 78j(b); (vi) Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5(b) of the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. § 78j(b); 10b-5(b); and (vii) Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5(c) of the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. § 78j(b); 10b-5(c).