SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — Charismatic, wildly successful, and spouting investment jargon like a pro is exactly how federal agents and victims of a Sarasota-based Ponzi scheme describe the man at the center of one of the IRS’s biggest fraud cases of 2022.
The Federal Beaure of Investigation (FBI) said Michael DaCorta convinced investors that his company, Oasis International Group, was reaping huge profits through foreign exchange trading.
Ken and Patti Katter invested their savings, $100,000, in Oasis International Group in 2018. In exchange, DaCorta provided an agreement guaranteeing the couple a return of 12% on their money.
The Katters invested their savings, $100,000, in Oasis International Group in 2018. In exchange, DaCorta provided an agreement guaranteeing the couple a return of 12% on their money.
Patti told the investigative team, “I finally trusted somebody to do something with our money to help it grow.”
The investigative team at WFTS said to understand the sacrifice behind the couple's investment, you have to go back to 2007.
"Ken, a combat-wounded, disabled veteran, nearly lost his life in a roadside bombing in the Iraq war. The $100,000 the couple gave DaCorta was the money the military paid out for Ken's injuries."
“Finally, I was like, wow, we have a friend. He's not going to screw us over," said Patti.
Less than a year later, their money was gone.
"It was just depressing because you know, we had saved our money for so long," said Ken.
FBI agent Ric Volp started investigating DaCorta’s business dealings in 2018.
“The magnitude of it, just the amount of money, is staggering,” he said.
Agent Volp and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigator Shawn Batsch found Oasis raked in as much as $5 million in fresh investor money in May of 2018 alone.
DaCorta lured new people in by paying great returns to those who invested earlier, and word spread.
But the company was losing millions in the foreign currency trading business; investigators said, uncovering losses of $4 million in one month, January 2018.
From 2011 to 2018 DaCorta trapped more than 700 people who forked over more than $80 million.
Agent Volp and investigator Batsch worked the case quickly to salvage as much of the investors’ money as possible.
Within months the FBI and IRS froze $23 million in assets, including homes, cars, gold, silver, and cash.
In May 2022, a jury convicted the then-57-year-old of wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering.
DaCorta is now serving 23 years at the federal penitentiary in Coleman.
Months ago DaCorta agreed to an interview with the investigative team but recently backed out.
His co-conspirator Joseph Anile pled guilty but was released from prison after two years for health reasons and his cooperation in the investigation.
The court is now in the process of distributing Dacorta’s assets to his victims, but no one will be made whole.