Li l an Kreyòl: Eddy Alexandre te pwomèt yon jenerasyon milyonè
On Saturday, April 8, Eddy Alexandre entered the main doors of the Maranatha French Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, Queens. He wore a sharp navy blue suit with a white button-down shirt and patterned bow tie.
Behind his rimmed glasses, he greeted people warmly as he passed through the church, eventually taking the left aisle to sit by himself in the row. When the assembly knelt during prayer, Alexandre stood in a stoic pose and smiled occasionally.
Alexandre did not appear to be a man under GPS surveillance, staring down a potential 10-year prison sentence.
Members of the church knew Alexandre not only for his role as elder at the church but for his business, EminiFX. Nearly a year and a half ago in September 2021, Alexandre launched the cryptocurrency and foreign exchange platform in New York that promised to create a new generation of millionaires.
Those lofty promises and his personal magnetism drew in over 62,000 investors, who gave EminiFX a total of nearly $250 million. These were people like Phucien Baptiste who had never met Eddy Alexandre in person but was drawn in by his promises of hefty returns on their investments and his connections in Haiti and Haitian communities across the country.
Baptiste’s wife had loose connections to Alexandre, so she convinced him to look into the digital investing platform. “Eddy’s presentations were so amazing!” Baptiste, a former Haitian police investigator, who lives in Georgia, recalled. “He makes you feel like you are learning at a university. No one interested in making money wouldn’t invest in EminiFX.”
After being charmed by Alexandre’s presentations, his elegant way of speaking, and his Christian background, in late January 2022, Baptiste made his first EminiFX deposit of $20,000. Later he said that he invested an additional $5,000 and his wife invested $2,000, expecting between 240% to 478% passive return in one year. He had plans to buy a house and pay the IRS with the money invested and the returns.
Like many others, he would never see that money again.
On May 12, 2022, the FBI arrested Alexandre, 51, for commodities fraud and wire fraud offenses executed through his cryptocurrency and foreign exchange platform.
According to Damian Williams, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, “Alexandre is alleged to have invested very little of [investors’] money — most of which he lost — and have transferred most of it to his account to pay for luxury items for himself.”
Following his arrest on Feb. 10, Alexandre pled guilty to one count of commodities fraud. He admitted that he failed to disclose to members and potential members of EminiFX that some of the advertised trading functions related to cryptocurrency and foreign currency were not fully functional. He acknowledged that the information he omitted regarding EminiFX’s trading functions status was important for investors to make informed decisions about investing in EminiFX.
“I knew this was misleading and wrong,” he told Judge John P. Cronan during the February hearing.“I alone was responsible for making decisions about EminiFX trading functions.”
Alexandre has agreed to pay forfeiture for nearly $250 million as well as restitution in an amount to be specified by the court. By pleading guilty, Alexandre, who is not a U.S. citizen according to court documents, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years and potential deportation to Haiti. If he had gone to trial, he would have faced up to 30 years in prison. On July 18, Alexandre is set to appear in court to be sentenced.
While Alexandre has pleaded guilty, the Haitian community in the U.S. remains divided.
Throughout Alexandre’s multiple court appearances, dozens of Haitians came to support him with signs and printed T-shirts bearing Alexandre’s face and the inscription: “We support our CEO.” Members of EminiFX close to him kept holding meetings, telling investors that he pled guilty not because he is, but because he cares about his people.
A petition on Change.org launched on May 11, 2022, gathered over 15,000 signatures telling the court that Alexandre did not make false representations, nor did he mislead its members. “We, the members/investors are begging the court to safeguard our funds, keep the EminiFX Inc. open and drop this particular charge toward Mr. Eddy Alexandre,” as it does not reflect what they experienced, according to the petition. The supporters asked the court to “keep the EminiFX Inc. open.”
But J. Wil Morris Esq. of Morris Legal LLC, based in Miami, Florida, told Documented that he and lawyer Ralph Stanley François are organizing around 75 potential plaintiffs to file a class action lawsuit against Alexandre by May 1.
“These people were duped,” said Morris. “Some pastors and evangelicals knew this was a scam, but they convinced these people to do it anyway. They preyed upon these people’s faith. They preyed upon their vulnerability, took their money, ran, and live a lavish life. They should be held accountable.”
Launching a Million Dollar Platform
To enroll in EminiFX, anyone could deposit money in one of the two bank accounts that Alexandre provided. Once an investor sent a proof of deposit receipt to Alexandre or one of his associates, the new investor would have access to a personal account on the EminiFX platform.
While depositing money was mainly an easy transaction via checks, wire transfers, and digital transactions, EminiFX imposed a 15% fee on investment withdrawals before they reached a five-month mark. But because the process of withdrawing money was so complicated, investors Documented spoke to said they left their money alone and instead watched as their returns grew every Thursday, when their accounts would be updated, on their digital dashboards.
“How could it be a scam if we could see our benefits growing each week on our account, even after Eddy was arrested?” asked Marc Pirrus, an investor in Florida who was happy with his investments in EminiFX.
Joseph Lorfils, a respiratory therapist based in Florida, said he was working at Albany Medical Center, New York when a friend encouraged him to invest in EminiFX. On February 2, 2022, he said he deposited $155,000 through a wire transfer to the EminiFX account. Lorfils said he never withdrew a penny from his account, which he said was generating $74,000 in profit per week. Over time, he invested a total of $250,000 with EminiFX.
“The first week I saw it was true, the numbers were growing on the account, and the next week I decided to invest more money,” he said. Today he feels differently. “What Eddy Alexandre did is a crime,” he said. “I am ashamed to tell people I lost my money.”
Magalie Philantrope, a respiratory therapist at Harlem Hospital, said Alexandre’s online meetings were more often like entertainment. “A white man usually started the meetings,” Philantrope said. “Sometimes he sang to entertain us and presented like a TV meteorologist. It was not professional. Nobody could understand. That’s when I thought EminiFX was not legit.”
The man in question was likely Joseph J. Lalicata, who identifies himself on LinkedIn as a “Third Risk/Information Security Assessment” professional, who worked at HBO, the same company Alexandre worked for. Lalicata declined to comment for this piece.
Before doubting Alexandre’s legitimacy, Philantrope said she invested $20,000 less than two months before Alexandre was arrested. Like her, she said many Haitians working in the healthcare system were victims of Alexandre’s scheme. In the complaint, FBI agent Joseph Strawman says it appears that “the only way that EminiFX [could] fund investor withdrawals is by using the funds of existing investors, or the funds of new investors.”
According to investors Documented spoke with, at one point, Alexandre announced that the bank was blocking his transactions. Still, he found a way for people to keep investing in his EminiFX platform: He urged them to buy crypto instead.
“It was then easier this way,” said Baptiste. “Anyone could transfer cryptos from their wallets, and no one would track Eddy’s operations. But we had to pay additional fees to convert our money into cryptos.” Many investors Documented spoke to said Alexandre tapped thousands of investors in the Haitian community who were unfamiliar with cryptocurrency. Although investors could watch their money grow on the digital platform, no one Documented interviewed could explain how EminiFX was generating profits from their money.
In his initial status report published on July 20, 2022, court-appointed receiver David A. Castleman revealed that while over $180 million had been deposited into EminiFX accounts by users using crypto, he could not find any evidence of such technology.
The Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York explained that investors believed the platform would generate money from crypto investments based on a “Robo-Assisted Advisor Account,” a highly secret technology that Alexandre could never reveal but would later admit was a misleading marketing strategy.
Chaplain and Multilevel Marketer
On many videos posted to social media, Alexandre can be seen delivering sermons and animating talks in churches in Texas, Florida, and New York. A fellow pastor, William Jean Charles, who went to high school with him in Haiti, described Alexandre as a “fine intellectual” during a presentation in an Adventist church in Houston, Texas.
Some Adventist church members in New York who invested in EminiFX say after Alexandre moved to the U.S. in 1998, he quickly benefited from the connections that his late father, an Adventist pastor, laid out in the U.S. “He preached in the mornings, and in the afternoons, he held seminars on EminiFX,” said an investor and Adventist church board member from New York who invested $80,000 in EminiFX and wished to remain anonymous.
As recently as April 15, Alexandre could be seen delivering sermons as he holds the position of elder at Maranatha French Seventh Day Adventist Church in Queens. Pastor Dr. Smith Olivier, the principal at Maranatha French Seventh Day Adventist Church, declined to comment about EminiFX.
Sources said that while Alexandre was living in New York he launched EminiFX from an investment club he created on a WhatsApp group with hundreds of members. He was able to draw in investors through multi-level marketing. For example, people who brought new investors could get 5% of their investments and 5% of their benefits. EminiFX was not registered with CFTC as was required by law. In the May 2022 complaint, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) says Alexandre had previously filed twice for bankruptcy in 2017 and 2019.
Alexandre primarily tapped into one WhatsApp group that gathered important members of the Haitian elite. This group, which Documented was able to access, contained more than 120 members, including a staff member of the current acting Haitian prime Minister, Ariel Henry.
According to the CFTC, Alexandre lost over $6 million on the portion of the money he invested, and he misdirected $14.7 million to his account. With investors’ funds, he purchased a $155,000 BMW, among other expenses, and through EminiFX, he was able to purchase 46 foreclosed residential properties and two non-foreclosed properties in Long Island. For those, he paid a finder $10,000 per bid and placed $2,502,400 in total down payments. According to the court-appointed receiver’s report, the purchase price of all 48 properties was $24,254,525.
The CFTC added that Eddy Alexandre also used participants’ funds to invest in luxury hotels, clothing and physical therapy. The funds were used to “rent and furnish office space for EminiFX and to host “galas” on behalf of EminiFX.” EminiFX’s office, on 31 W. 34th St., New York, came with views of the Empire State Building and a rent that was over $100,000 per month, according to the receiver. Alexandre also used investors’ money to make multiple charitable donations, including organizations like Voices for Haiti, for which he gave $15,000. Sources also informed Documented that Alexandre bought two Mercedes to give to the two investors who brought in the most new customers.
‘We are too smart’
On August 23, 2022, the YouTube channel “Life Changing Club,” created in August 2022 to promote Eddy Alexandre and EminiFX, reposted a meeting video with investors. In the caption in Haitian Creole, they explained why the government was withholding their money.
“They realize we are too smart, we were about to be millionaires too soon, guys, that’s why they hold our money,” read the caption in Creole. Among the speakers were two advocates of EminiFX, pastor John Edvard Maisonneuve and his wife Sophia D. Maisonneuve of the Bethlehem French Adventist Church in Pennsylvania.
John Edvard can be seen with Alexandre while he was leaving the court in New York, and on March 11, Documented observed John Edvard worshiping with Alexandre at Maranatha French SDA church. John Edvard and Sophia D. Maisonneuve both declined to comment about EminiFX.
In a Zoom meeting held this March 7, over 300 participants listened for over an hour to a group of men who described themselves as “loyal EminiFX investors.” In the meeting, they lauded Alexandre and convinced the audience he pleaded guilty so they would have their money back.
“This genius will remain in our community. That’s why we will fight against every malicious people who want to remove him from us,” Ricardo Estimé, a realtor agent and preacher in Pennsylvania, said during the Zoom meeting.
After Alexandre pleaded guilty, Emmanuel Roy, a disbarred lawyer and advocate for the victims, invited a group of investors on Feb. 26 to a Zoom call with two lawyers based in Florida, Ralph Stanley François and J. Wil Morris. Investors at the Zoom meeting were highly encouraged to file a class action lawsuit as soon as possible for a lawyer fee of $1,000. The lawyers said they would get 30% of the claim’s award settlement and said a court order issued a 60-day deadline for claimants to file action.
However, on the receiver’s website, he states: “The Receiver has NOT provided any EminiFX user with a refund. He has not filed a distribution plan in this case, nor has he requested that the Court approve ANY distributions. Any information you have received to the contrary, including about a so-called ’90-day’ process, is incorrect.”
In another petition that had gathered over 1,300 members’ signatures, members denounced Roy.
In a testimony published on Facebook, Alexandre detailed to church members that day God did a “miracle” to “deliver” him from prison. He said he made a deal with God, asking Him to take him out of incarceration if he is innocent. Indeed, Alexandre was released on a $3 million bond secured by five people and three pieces of property.
While Alexandre is the only person being charged, several others appeared in EminiFX’s presentations to promote the platform, and court documents reveal that EminiFX had employed upwards of 40 people. CFTC investigator Matthew S. Edelstein declared that EminiFX’s investors’ funds “appear to have been sent to Alexandre’s family members and associates,” noting in his report that Alexandre sent at least $200,000 to one individual. And, in his initial status report, court-appointed receiver Castleman revealed that Alexandre’s wife was EminiFX’s Chief Financial Officer.
Alexandre’s sister, Lydie Bastien, was also among the people Alexandre brought forward to show how easily they could become rich. Documented attempted multiple times to reach out to Alexandre’s sister, but she declined to comment. For this piece, Documented contacted Alexandre, his lawyer Emil Bove, and Alexandre’s sister Lydie Alexandre Bastien multiple times. They all declined to comment.
Alexandre returned to the Maranatha French SDA church in Queens on Saturday, April 15. That week, he wore a black suit, white shirt, and black bow tie. He stood on the pulpit and reviewed the lessons of the week with the assembly, later introducing the “reading of the scriptures.” He chose to read “The Parable of the Lost Sheep” from the Gospel of Luke.
“Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ ” Alexandre began reading in French. “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
EminiFX investors are encouraged to reach out on the Receiver’s website with any information regarding EminiFX. Find more information by visiting https://www.eminifxreceivership.com and emailing information requests to [email protected].
Correction: An earlier version of this piece incorrectly referred to respiratory therapist Joseph Lorfils as Dr. Joseph Lorfils. We apologize for the error.