Man, 79, Becomes Fugitive In Ponzi Scheme Case; Gerald J. Berke Wanted By FBI In Alleged $81 Million Caper

Gerald Berke: Source: FBI (2011 photo).

It is not unusual for senior citizens to operate Ponzi schemes — and here is another alleged example.

Gerald J. “Jerry” Berke, 79, is wanted by the FBI for an alleged Ponzi caper in the Los Angeles area that fleeced about 500 investors out of more than $81 million, the agency said.

Berke will turn 80 in September.

The FBI has published a “Wanted” poster that includes three photos of Berke: one taken in 2008, one taken in 2009 and one taken in 2011. A federal judge issued an arrest warrant for Berke in January.

Berke ran a purported “factoring” business in which investors believed they were financing accounts receivable and making loans to businesses. The business of GJB Enterprises was a “pretense,” the FBI said.

Berke, a Canadian national, “is believed to have fled from the United States to Canada,” the FBI said. “He has been residing in the Vancouver area (British Columbia).”

Investors were lured by the promise of high returns, the FBI said.

From left to right: Berke in 2008, 2009 and 2011: Source: FBI.

“Investors allegedly were told that factoring business does better in a bad economy and were promised an 18% return on investments,” the FBI said. “However, Berke allegedly used investors’ money to make payments to earlier investors and eventually stopped. Also, Berke is alleged to have paid for personal and business expenses using investors’ money.”

The FBI is asking members of the public who have information on Berke to contact the agency or the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Filings by the court-appointed receiver in the case suggest Berke fled to Canada in July 2010. Shortly thereafter, he allegedly withdrew $22,000 from a bank account in Canada.

In October 2010, a California state judge found Berke guilty of contempt of court for violating court orders.

Wanted poster.

Site of receiver Stephen J. Donell.

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4 Responses to “Man, 79, Becomes Fugitive In Ponzi Scheme Case; Gerald J. Berke Wanted By FBI In Alleged $81 Million Caper”

  1. Is it just me, or does that guy look really drunk??

  2. Naw, he’s just shocked that he has been charged with running a Ponzi because Ken Russo didn’t declare his program a Ponzi. After all, Ken is one of the first to call a program a Ponzi. Just ask him.

  3. That was sarcasm, right??

  4. Wizzard7: That was sarcasm, right??

    Are you implying that Ken Russo would lie about something like this? I was merely repeating what Ken said, and since he did not announce this was a Ponzi, I am sure Berke was “shocked” to be charged with operating one.

    I’m sure if Berke would have Ken Russo talk to the authorities, Ken could clear this whole mess up.