Miami-Dade con man Karl Thompson swindled an ex-cop and got caught

Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein bilked investors out of $1.2 billion, but at least he didn't bamboozle a poor one-armed handyman like Karl Thompson did.

The 40-year-old scammer defrauded friends and business associates in Aventura, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Miramar, North Miami, and North Miami Beach between 2008 and last year. Franklyn Walsh, who lost his arm in a car accident ten years ago, tells Riptide that in early 2008, he painted the interior of a now-defunct Hallandale Beach nightclub that Thompson co-owned.

"He agreed to pay me $4,400," Walsh recalls. "For eight weeks and four days, I worked every day. He wrote me a check, and when I went to his bank to cash it, the teller informed me the account was closed. I came to find out Karl was bouncing checks like basketballs."

Walsh says he gave up trying to collect from Thompson, who victimized more than a dozen people in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Florida International University sophomore Pierre Monchery says his credit was destroyed because of Thompson. For starters, Thompson purchased an apartment at the Parc Central Aventura East condominium under Monchery's name in 2007 without his knowledge, the college student claims.

"Now I have a foreclosure for $520,000," Monchery grouses. "On top of that, he owes me $2,500 for an investment he hasn't paid back and two years of unpaid wages when I was working for his mortgage business."

Thompson even swindled a retired Aventura cop out of nearly $1 million. Bob Seiden claims he has two foreclosures on his credit report because of Thompson. The Baltimore native showed Riptide six bank slips as proof he withdrew more than $300,000 for bogus real estate investments with Thompson. "He's very convincing portraying himself as a nice guy," Seiden says. "He works his way into your life, all so he can take you for a ride. He's worse than Bernie Madoff."

Thompson's hornswoggling ways ended this past October 6 when Aventura Police officers arrested him for grand theft, organized fraud, and resisting arrest without violence. According to the police report, Thompson was crouched on the ground hiding behind his car in front of his house in Aventura's Country Club Estates. An officer used a Taser to subdue the roly-poly Jamaican. At the time, Thompson was wanted for writing a worthless $2,878 check to purchase clothes at Damiani, a men's store in Aventura Mall.

Thompson is in Miami-Dade County jail awaiting trial. Because he is not a U.S. citizen, he faces deportation. But Seiden is on a mission to make sure Thompson stays locked up. The ex-cop has collected affidavits from most of Thompson's victims and has met with state prosecutors to give them information about Thompson's various scams. "If this guy gets out or gets deported, it would be a blessing for him," Seiden says. "He'd be able to keep pulling his scams on innocent people."

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.