Friday, July 13, 2012

Peregrine Financial Group: 20 Years of Forged Documents by CEO

Photo of Wasendorf from CBS News
Earlier this week it was reported that Peregrine Financial Group was short about $220 million of the reported $225 million of customer funds. Today the text of a suicide note written by the CEO, Russell Wasendorf Sr., shows that Wasendorf forged documents for twenty years to conceal his fraud.

Below is the text of the note as reported on various news sources. In the note, Wasendorf lays out, in detail, how he committed the fraud.

“I have committed fraud. For this I feel constant and intense guilt. I am very remorseful that my greatest transgressions have been to my fellow man. Through a scheme of using false bank statements I have been able to embezzle millions of dollars from customer accounts at Peregrine Financial Group, Inc.

“The forgeries started nearly twenty years ago and have gone undetected until now. I was able to conceal my crime of forgery by being the sole individual with access to the US Bank accounts held by PFG. No one else in the company ever saw an actual US Bank statement. The bank statements were always delivered directly to me when they arrived in the mail. I made counterfeit statements within a few hours of receiving the actual statement and gave the forgeries to the accounting department.

“... I had no access to additional capital and I was forced into a difficult decision: Should I go out of business or cheat? I guess my ego was too big to admit failure. So I cheated, I falsified the very core of the financial documents of PFG, the Bank Statements.

“At first I had to make forgeries of both the Firstar Bank Statement and the Harris Bank Statements. When I choose [sic] to close the Harris Account I only had to falsify the Firstar statement. I also made forgeries of officials letters and correspondence from the bank, as well as transaction confirmation statements.

“Using a combination of Photo Shop, Excel, scanners, and both laser and ink jet printers I was able to make very convincing forgeries of nearing every document that came from the Bank. I could create forgeries very quickly so no one suspected that my forgeries were not the real thing that had just arrived in the mail.

“With careful concealment and blunt authority I was able to hide my fraud from others at PFG. PFG grew out of a one man shop, a business I started in the basement of my home. As I added people to my company everyone knew I was the guy in charge. If anyone questioned my authority I would simply point out that I was the sole shareholder.

“I established rules and procedures as each new situation arose. I ordered that US Bank statement were to be delivered directly to me unopened, to make sure no one was able to examine an actual US Bank Statement. I was also the only person with online access to PFG’s account using US Bank’s online portal. On US Bank side, I told representatives at the bank that I was the only person they should interface with at PFG.

“When it became a common practice for Certified Auditors and the Field Auditors of the Regulators to mail Balance Confirmation Forms to Banks and other entities holding customer funds I opened a post office box. The box was originally in the name of Firstar Bank but was eventually changed to US Bank....

“When online banking became prevalent I learned how to falsify online Bank Statements and the Regulators accepted them without questions.”

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