Russ Wasendorf and his Imaginary Empire - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Russ Wasendorf and his Imaginary Empire

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July 6, 2012, was the day Russ Wasendorf, Senior, found out the National Futures Association was going to starting using an electronic bank account verification system to check the balances of his Peregrine Financial Group customer accounts. 

At that moment, Wasendorf knew it was all over.

In a matter of days or even hours, the NFA would discover his nearly 20-year fraud scheme, in which he stole $215,000,00 in customer funds, going back to the early 1990's. 

Monday, he tried to kill himself. In his suicide attempt, he used exhaust fumes from his car, parked in a wooded area on PFG grounds, but an employee found him and called 911.

Wasendorf survived the suicide attempt, and by Friday of that week, Federal prosecutors charged him, in what would become Iowa's largest case of financial fraud. Wasendorf left a four-page suicide note, outlining his scheme for Federal prosecutors. He also left suicide notes for his new wife, Nancy, and son, Russ, Jr.

KWWL recently traveled to Cedar Rapids to interview Federal Prosecutor, Peter Deegan. In addition a trip to Chicago to check in with Ira Bodenstein, the PFG bankruptcy trustee, Michael Eidelman, the court-appoint receiver and Daniel Roth, President of the national Futures Association. Watch the story on      

At $215,000,000, it remains the largest financial fraud in Iowa history. A nearly 20-year scheme, perpetuated by Russ Wasendorf, Senior, founder and CEO of the now-defunct Peregrine Financial Group, PFGBest. The online futures trading company which said it had customers in 80 countries.

After three and a half years, the case remains active on several fronts. While Russ Wasendorf, Senior, is serving a 50-year prison term at the Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. The NFA has initiated several rules changes, in an effort to prevent another fraud like PFG.

Read new rules implemented by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Page 1 and Page 2

Read the letter Russ Wasendorf wrote to Ron Steele, Page 1 and Page 2

Read Wasendorf's 2012 suicide letter, Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4

Read the Prison's warden's reason for denying KWWL's request to interview Russ Wasendorf, Senior at the Terre Haute Federal prison  

Read the Wasendorf case statement request

Read the new rules implemented by the National Futures Associated

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