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William Jack Berg circa 2021.

Regulation and Compliance > Litigation

Former FBI 'Most Wanted' Advisor Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Money Laundering

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What You Need to Know

  • Berg had fostered a trusted financial advisor relationship with the victims, prosecutors said.

A former financial advisor in Iowa who appeared on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “most wanted” list has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges.

William Jack Berg, 51, who was arrested in April, pleaded guilty on June 10 in connection to defrauding over a dozen people by encouraging them to transfer their funds to him for investment, according to prosecutors.

The targeted individuals provided Berg with over $1.5 million that he used instead for his own personal expenses, including vehicles, jewelry, rent, travel, groceries, gas, clothing and dining out, the U.S. attorney’s office for Iowa’s southern district said.

As part of his plea, Berg, who lived in Waukee, Iowa, agreed to forfeit jewelry purchased with fraudulently acquired money, including an engagement ring acquired with a check from his bank account for $37,343, prosecutors said.

Berg also used the investors’ money to make payments to other individuals as purported “returns” or “dividends” on previously received money even though he had already spent those individuals’ assets.

Berg admitted to making false and fraudulent representations to his victims for the purpose of enriching himself at the expense of the victims, prosecutors said.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 11 and potentially faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and up to 10 years in prison for money laundering. Berg also will be ordered to pay restitution to all victims of his fraud scheme in an amount to be determined by the sentencing U.S. district court judge.

The Iowa Insurance Division’s Fraud Bureau and the FBI are investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam J. Kerndt is prosecuting, the prosecutor’s office said.

A March 19 indictment alleges Berg sold life insurance, annuities and other products and acted as a financial advisor to people in central Iowa and elsewhere in the U.S. He also created several business entities and opened bank accounts in their names, acting as the sole owner and signer on those accounts, the indictment says.

From about January 2019 through May 2023, Berg knowingly schemed to obtain investors’ money under false pretenses after fostering a trusted financial advisor relationship with them, the indictment says.

Berg didn’t disclose to these clients that he was the only person behind the investment firms he prompted them to invest with, the indictment says.

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Independent Adviser Public Disclosure database lists William Jack Berg as a former investment advisor in Iowa who hasn’t been registered with any firm since 2021; the record includes no disclosures.

Pictured: William Jack Berg circa 2021. Credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation


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