NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Naval Academy graduate ripped off his friends and former classmates by running a $1.2 million Ponzi scheme, prosecutors alleged Tuesday.

Bryan Caisse was indicted on 10 counts of grand larceny and one count of first-degree scheme to defraud, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported. According to prosecutors, Caisse promised to invest the money he collected in an Upper West Side-based hedge fund company he was starting but then used the cash for his own living expenses, including rental payments, car services, personal debts, cash withdrawals and dining, prosecutors said.

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Prosecutor Sean Pippen told the court Caisse fled the country with a one-way ticket to Colombia to avoid prosecution and that now he is trying to raise bail from the same people who were his victims. He was arrested in Bogota on Saturday.

Pippen even dropped the name Bernie Madoff, the notorious Ponzi schemer, in describing the scam.

“At the heart of every Ponzi scheme is greed and a betrayal of trust,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement. “This defendant is accused of preying upon those who trusted him. Investors need to be very careful about who they give their money to. And Ponzi schemers should be very careful about operating these scams within the jurisdiction of my Office.”

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Caisse’s attorney, Bradley Simon, however, denied his client ran a Ponzi scheme.

“The facts are completely different,” Simon told Cornell. “There’s no comparison to anything connected to Madoff. Brian Caisse has always acknowledged his obligation to repay his lenders and intends to repay every penny and more, with interest.”

And that, Simon said, is why his so-called victims offered to help bail Caisse out.

Prosecutors, however, said Caisse became evasive when some of his victims began to seek repayment and that he set up email accounts in the names of fictitious assistants, who told the clients that Caisse has been seriously injured in a car accident and insisted repayments were coming.

The judge set bail at $3 million.

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