A Corinth man was jailed in Hamilton County late Wednesday in connection with what police described as a nationwide “Ponzi scheme” that led to investors losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, officials said.

State Police charged Jason T. Knapp, 29, with second-degree grand larceny, a felony, for allegedly stealing $60,000 from an Indian Lake resident through an investment scheme.

Authorities said there are related police investigations of Knapp’s actions in Florida, Arizona, Rochester, New York City and possibly Maryland.

He had worked as a financial adviser for Dawson James Securities Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla., and had solicited money from clients and friends in connection with a company he claimed to have started, State Police Investigator Jonathan Garrow said.

Knapp allegedly promised returns of 18 percent to 22 percent for short-term investments in the company he called SteepleChase Group, Garrow said.

Instead, he was paying some investors with money he took in from subsequent investors, using the proceeds to travel and frequent casinos, according to police.

“He created fictitious documents for an investment that did not exist,” Garrow said. “It was basically a Ponzi scheme.”

Garrow said the victim in Indian Lake was a friend of Knapp’s, and other friends and clients had invested tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some of them had been involved in legitimate investing with Knapp in the past, Garrow said.

“We know of several people who are out hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the investigator said.

Several of the victims were in Boca Raton, Fla., where Dawson James is based, and a call to the investigator handling the case there was not returned Thursday.

State Police said Knapp fled the region when he learned he was under investigation, but troopers located him in Maryland this week and he returned to New York to face a grand larceny charge.

Knapp was arraigned in Indian Lake Town Court and sent to Hamilton County Jail for lack of bail.

A woman who answered the phone at Dawson James Securities on Thursday said the company had no comment on Knapp’s situation.

Second-degree grand larceny is punishable by up to 25 years in state prison.

 

(2) comments

dot2dot

The article isn't clear whether Dawson James Company was ever involved? If a legitimate securities company is involved there should be some recourse and possibly govenment backed 'insurance' in the case of fraud. BUT if he never used Dawson James logo, etc. in his fraud then recouping losses will be much more difficult. Still, I bet there is a government program somewhere that overs some protection and a way of getting some funds back. People always complain about there being too many restrictions from "big brother government" but examples like this show what investing could be like without oversight! I'd like to think I'm smart enough to recognize a deal too good to be true but I'm sure a lot of smart (but greedy) people got swindled!

BetrayedByFriend

You raise legitimate questions about much needed controls and oversight in securities industry. There is one thing, however, that no SEC and government will ever be able to prevent: when people you trust and know for decade, that you consider your close friends, that you have personal daily contacts with, approach you with investment proposition, you don't expect to be treated like a sap and question their motives. That is why such cases cause a tremendous mental anguish, that force you to question your own intelligence. Trust me, there is no "smart (but greedy) people" here. Just the ones that could not possibly see this coming from a long time trusted friend. Bernie Madoff used "trust" to perpetrate his crimes. He robbed a lot of smart people that were not greedy. They thought he was on their side! He was supposed to be! The victims are not at fault here. And yes, the victims know better. If they do not know fraud perpetrator personally, they usually do not fall for any Ponzi fraud

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