Renting Out Trouble: Realtor accused of stealing deposits from potential renters

(WSVN) - He is a South Florida realtor who will find an apartment for you… and now, he is accused of taking people’s deposits and doing nothing for them. How many people? Let’s bring in Patrick Fraser with his special report, Renting Out Trouble.

Our first call came from Jonathan and Melissa.

Jonathan Lafleur: “Met her in March of last year.”

The couple decided to rent an apartment together. They found a realtor on Craigslist who said he had a nice place for them…..

Jonathan Lafleur: “In total, we gave him $1,875.”

Then we met Borys and Daniela who were looking for an apartment and talked to the same realtor.

Daniela Atanafova: “We were supposed to move on the 15th.”

They gave the realtor $2,500… neither couple got an apartment, neither couple got their money back.

Daniela Atanafova: “On the phone too, he cursed us out.”

Jonathan Lafleur: “I’m not going to pay you back.”

And then we started meeting more people who said they were ripped off by the same man, Jean Berthelot, from Friendly International Realty in North Miami.

Hudson Michel: “He told me we have plenty of places. He sounds like a great guy, so I believe him.”

Hudson says he gave Berthelot $2,000 and never got an apartment or his money back.

Hudson Michel: “Actually Jean is not trying to help us out. He is trying to rob us and take people money.”

Berthelot’s realtor’s license has been suspended, but Yaneisse didn’t know that when he took her money for an apartment.

Patrick Fraser: “How much did you give him?”

Yaneisse Valvespino: “$1,600.”

Shakevia says she got taken by Berthelot…

Shakevia Simon: “I gave him $2,100.”

Patrick Fraser: “What did you get?”

Shakevia Simon: “Uh nothing… at all.”

One person after another accusing the realtor of taking their money and threatening them when they tried to get it back.

Hudson Michel: “He told me he knows my address, he knows my social, he knows where all of us stay at, that we cannot mess with him.”

Each person has texts from Berthelot. Some were nasty. He ridiculed Jonathan for not having enough money for another apartment.

Jonathan Lafleur: “At your age, I own an airplane and you can barely afford to pay your rent on time.”

When they kept asking for their money back, they say he vowed to sue each one.

Shakevia Simon: “I researched him, and he told me he was going to sue me for researching him.”

Berthelot wouldn’t talk to me on camera. When I stopped by his office, the door was locked and he would not come out, but he did call to let me know he was calling the police on me and told me I needed to leave the shopping plaza.

Patrick Fraser: “No, no thank you. Unless you own the plaza, you can’t tell us to leave.”

Actually the North Miami Police would have loved to have come by and met with Jean Berthelot. They are very familiar with him… very familiar.

Det. Benjamin Dolly, North Miami Police: “From a $1,000… one of my victims gave him $10,500.”

Detective Benjamin Dolly has been investigating Jean Berthelot. How many victims has he documented?

Det. Benjamin Dolly: “Right now, I have 22 victims.”

Twenty-two people that Berthelot is accused of ripping off. Even more stunning? Last year, he was arrested by Detective Dolly and charged with doing the same thing to three other people…

Det. Benjamin Dolly: “Organized scheme to defraud and grand theft.”

Patrick Fraser: “But he’s still bringing people in to rent places, correct?”

Det. Benjamin Dolly: “Yes he is.”

Patrick Fraser: “So he didn’t stop.”

Det. Benjamin Dolly: “No he didn’t.”

After he sued Shekevia Simon, she also sued him to get her money back.

Judge: “He’s not here, so what will happen is you will receive a default judgment.”

Simon got a judgment when Berthelot didn’t show up, but he knew other victims were going to court to support Simon, and so he called each of them with the same promise.

Shekevia Simon: “He’s starting up a company and he wants me to be a part of it. And he wants to give me five percent of the company.”

He also promised Jonathan five percent of his new company… if Jonathan could do something for him…

Jonathan Lafleur: “He wanted me to keep you away from him. I think he’s kind of scared of you.”

Berthelot should forget about me. It’s North Miami Police officers who are on his trail.

Det. Benjamin Dolly: “I am positive there are more people out there. I want them to come in here and file a police report with us so we can continue to go after Jean.”

Working on stopping a man accused of hurting so many people.

They each wanted to an apartment. All their rent money got was trouble.

If you think you’ve been victimized by Jean Berthelot, please call North Miami Police at 305 891-8111 and ask to speak to Detective Dolly. He wants to talk to any more potential victims before proceeding with charges.

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