In 2016, Anis Blemur was running for a Florida Senate seat in Little Haiti, campaigning on his experience as an entrepreneur and businessman to “empower his people.”
But a U.S. District Court found that instead of empowering the Haitian community, the Miami real estate broker preyed on them through a real estate investment scheme that defrauded investors of $1.6 million.
Blemur was sentenced this week to seven years in federal prison and five years of supervised release, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation announced.
From 2013 to 2018, Blemur solicited money from investors for real estate properties in South Florida and told investors that he would keep their money safe in an escrow account.
In one instance, Blemur told a retired medical doctor and Haitian diplomat that he could purchase a property priced at $180,000. But when the diplomat sent over $70,000 to buy the property, Blemur never put the money in an escrow account. The money instead went to his personal checking accounts and the property never closed, according to court documents.
An investigation by the FBI and the Office of Financial Regulation found an additional scam, where Blemur used victims’ personal identifying information to apply for 26 credit cards. Blemur said he only needed to use their credit cards temporarily and would pay any charges that he made on the credit cards, according to court documents.
In April, Blemur pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft for his role in the scams. His lawyer Larry Robert Handfield did not immediately return a request for comment.
Blemur ran unsuccessfully in 2014 and 2016 for Florida’s 38th District.