Sarasota Man Sentenced To 23 Years In Federal Prison For Running $80 Million “Oasis” FOREX Ponzi Scheme
Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge William F. Jung has sentenced Michael J. DaCorta (57, Sarasota) to 23 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, money laundering, and filing a false income tax return. As part of his sentence, the court also entered an order of forfeiture in the amount of $2,817,876.16, a portion of the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct. A federal jury had found DaCorta guilty on May 4, 2020.
According to testimony and evidence presented during the 13-day trial, from November 2011 through April 18, 2019, DaCorta ran an investment company named Oasis International Group, Ltd. (“OIG”). DaCorta and his co-conspirators persuaded at least 700 victims to invest in OIG through promissory notes and other means, causing victims’ losses exceeding $80 million. DaCorta, who had effectively been banned from conducting foreign exchange trading (“FOREX”) by agreement with the National Futures Association, induced victims to invest in OASIS by falsely representing to victim-investors that OASIS was reaping enormous profits by being a “market maker” and collecting “spread” on voluminous FOREX trades. DaCorta also pitched the opportunity as essentially risk free and OASIS as well-collateralized. In reality, OASIS was not making markets and had no true revenue. The “spread” earnings were being paid on each trade by OASIS back to OASIS in order to create the illusion of revenue, which was published to investors on fictious account statements and an online portal. The OIG investor portal showed the “spread” credits but concealed catastrophic underlying trading losses.
DaCorta and his conspirators used the balance of the victim-investors’ funds to make Ponzi-style payments to perpetuate the scheme and to fund lavish lifestyles. For example, the evidence showed that DaCorta used victim-investors’ funds to purchase a Maserati and Range Rovers for his family members, a country club membership, multiple million-dollar homes in Florida, college tuition for family members, flights on private jets, and lavish trips to Europe and the Cayman Islands. DaCorta also under-reported his income on his 2017 federal income tax return, claiming a negative income and receiving a tax refund.
“Mr. DaCorta guaranteed his more than 700 clients an “oasis” of an investment, when in reality all they got was a dust bowl of empty promises,” said Brian Payne, IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge. “Today’s significant prison sentence ordered by the court should offer some measure of justice to all of those impacted by the destructive wake of Mr. DaCorta’s greed and indifference.”
“Mr. DaCorta surrendered to greed and swindled millions of dollars from honest, hard-working Americans,” said FBI Tampa Field Office Special Agent in Charge David Walker. “Today’s sentencing confirms the FBI’s commitment to hold heartless fraudsters accountable for their actions and ensure justice is served.”
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the National Futures Association, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Criminal Prosecution Assistance Group, and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rachelle DesVaux Bedke and David W.A. Chee, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Murray.