Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
Press Release

DFI Investigation Leads to Investment Fraud Convictions in Brown County

 

By - Dec 17th, 2020 10:03 am

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) today announced two recent investment fraud criminal convictions in Brown County Circuit Court that arose from an investigation and enforcement action undertaken by DFI’s Division of Securities (the “Division”) to protect consumers in Wisconsin. The Division previously issued orders against Malorie F. Berceau, Travis J. Ebert, and their company MFB Investments, LLC relating to an investment scam.

On December 4, 2020, Berceau was sentenced to three and a half years in state prison after being convicted of three felony counts of theft. Berceau will also be subject to 13 years of extended supervision after concluding her initial confinement and be required to make $397,304 in restitution payments to her victims, in addition to other supervision conditions.

Berceau’s partner, Ebert, was also convicted of two felony counts of theft and sentenced to five years of probation on October 15, 2020. Ebert is also required to pay restitution to the victims.

According to the Division’s Summary Cease and Desist Orders and Notices of Orders for Restitution and Civil Penalties, which were issued October 27, 2017, Berceau and Ebert offered to trade in foreign exchange currency (forex), cryptocurrency, and penny stocks to generate large gains in investors’ accounts. Instead, almost all of the investor funds were used for Berceau and Ebert’s personal expenses, distributed to family members, and to pay back earlier investors in the scheme. Berceau also represented to several investors that she was a registered financial professional, when in fact she was not, and generated falsified account statements to make her investors believe the operation was legitimate.

As a result of the Division’s 2017 investigation and orders, charges were filed against Berceau and Ebert in late 2018 in Brown County, Wis. Both Berceau and Ebert pled no contest in 2019.

“DFI is grateful to the Brown County District Attorney’s office for their diligent prosecution of this matter,” said DFI Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld. “This case illustrates the importance of always checking whether your financial professional is properly registered to give investment advice. If just one investor had checked with DFI’s Division of Securities, they would have known immediately that Berceau and Ebert were not registered as financial professionals or affiliated with any broker-dealer or investment adviser. Never assume someone is registered – you can protect your entire retirement portfolio with a simple phone call. Investors can safeguard themselves and others by taking time to research both the investment product and the person selling it.”

To inquire about the registration status of a financial professional or recommended product, investors may call DFI’s Division of Securities at (608) 266-2139 or visit www.wdfi.org for more information on how to avoid investment scams.

Mentioned in This Press Release

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