New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood. // Photo courtesy of NY.gov

AG Indicts Phony Forest Hills Currency Trader

By David Brand

Prosecutors say he swindled a client out of $250,000, but his investment strategy just didn’t make cents.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced a felony indictment charging former Forest Hills stockbroker and currency trader Jason Ari Amada, 41 who claimed to be a broker and convinced would-be investors into handing him $250,000 based on a too-good-to-be-true commitment.

Underwood said Amada told clients he successfully traded foreign currencies through his company Amada Capital Management LLC. Amada allegedly drafted a contract committing to no loss greater than one percent and pledging that he would not take a commission unless he generated a profit.

Nevertheless, he allegedly engaged in an aggressive day-trading strategy that generated over $150,000 in fees and commissions for himself and resulted in the loss of over 99 percent of the investor’s money.    

“As we allege, the defendant misrepresented his professional experience, failed to disclose his expired license, lost his client’s investment, and diverted $20,000 to his personal account,” Underwood said. “My office won’t hesitate to prosecute those who scam New Yorkers out of their hard-earned money.”

According to the indictment, Amada allegedly fraudulently solicited a client and promised to save her the exchange fees that she would have otherwise been charged when converting Euros to U.S. dollars in order to purchase an apartment in Manhattan in the summer of 2015.

Amada allegedly misrepresented his professional experience and his company’s historical profits to convince his client to open an online retail foreign exchange trading account and transfer control of approximately €250,000 to Amada.

Amada also allegedly failed to disclose that his broker’s license had expired three years prior, in May 2012.

In order to persuade his client to invest, Amada allegedly executed a written contract promising the client that she would not lose more than one percent of the money invested, and that he would only take a commission if the account earned a profit. Yet, once he had control of the money, Amada allegedly engaged in an aggressive and speculative day-trading strategy involving foreign currency orders, which generated commissions for Amada regardless of whether the trades resulted in a profit or loss for his client.

Within 45 days, this strategy generated over $150,000 in fees and commissions for Amada — but resulted in the loss of over 99 percent of his client’s initial investment of €250,000.

In an attempt to conceal the massive losses, Amada allegedly transferred some of his commissions back into the trading account – only to lose the money due to his aggressive and speculative trading strategy. Amada also allegedly diverted over $20,000 to his own personal account, which he used for various personal expenses such as dining and gambling through the gaming app FanDuel.

When confronted by his client about the low balance in her trading account, Amada allegedly created a fake account statement that falsely stated that her account balance was over $150,000, when in fact it was less than $3,000.

The Attorney General’s indictment, unsealed Friday in New York County Supreme Court, charges Amada with one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a class “C” felony) and one count of violating the Martin Act (a class “E” felony). Amada was arraigned before the Honorable Cassandra Mullen in New York County Supreme Court and is currently being held on bail of $250,000 bond or $150,000 cash.

If convicted of the top count charged, the defendant faces up to 15 years in prison.

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