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Madoff Congo scandal
March 23, 2009 6:07 AM   Subscribe

The US Attorney's office has submitted email correspondence between Bernie Madoff and his victims, some of whom are more deserving than others. Via
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 (60 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Actually the emails are to the prosecutors office but many are directed to Madoff.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:12 AM on March 23, 2009


another victim
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:14 AM on March 23, 2009


default viewer through FF on Ubuntu just brought me to page 1, but examination of the URL indicates page 36 is the payoff, so skip there
posted by DU at 6:17 AM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


That explains where the money went.
posted by chillmost at 6:27 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Minneapolis/St. Paul arts community is reeling because of this. A surprising number of Twin Citians were Madoff investors, and many of them were the backbone of the philanthropic community here. There are arts organizations that had their budgets hugely slashed because of or two donors are now broke -- donors that represented twenty percent or more of their annual budget. I don't know how this has affected local charities, but I suspect it's similar.

I never believed in trickle-down economics, but, man, now I sure do believe in trickle-down victimization.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:29 AM on March 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


LOL! i was just reading this at Josh's.
sheesh,you'd think they'd filter out the spam.
posted by liza at 6:33 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


My heart really weeps for all those millionaires who were bilked by Madoff, I mean. it's really tragic that their high priced financial advisors were unable to stop them from throwing their money down the toilet. I think they deserve a tax break. Now if those damn mortgage freeloaders would just pony up what they owe we can cover one for them.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:40 AM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Twin Citians

Is this really what you call yourselves? You stuck a Latin ending on a French word? What happened to citizens?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:43 AM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hey, I live in Minneapolis, which melds together the Dakota word for water with the Greek word for city.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:46 AM on March 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


Twin Citians

Is this really what you call yourselves? You stuck a Latin ending on a French word? What happened to citizens?


So says shakespeherian.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:53 AM on March 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


So says shakespeherian.

So ele-gant, so intellig-gent...
posted by abulafa at 6:57 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's all these people who lost their entire life savings that stretch my credulity. Even if the Madoff funds had been operated in full transparency, with webcams attached to the left shoulder of Madoff and every staff member, and daily telephone briefings in which Madoff explained his investment techniques in detail to every investor, it would still be completely idiotic to invest your entire savings with one institution. I'm sympathetic to anyone conned by Madoff, but... it's weird, that's all.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:57 AM on March 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


I imagine Bernie got a ton of penis enlargement spam...but he certainly didn't need any ball enhancement.
posted by lobstah at 6:59 AM on March 23, 2009


> The US Attorney's office has submitted email correspondence between Bernie Madoff and his victims

No, it's a compilation of citizen complaints addressed to the court, compiled by the US Attorney's Office. Obviously some 419 scammer got the address and sent his usual material as well, and it wasn't blocked by the attorney's spamfilter. None of this email was addressed to Madoff.
posted by ardgedee at 7:03 AM on March 23, 2009


I like the one where the writer hopes Madoff's wife spends the rest of her days "playing bingo and eating in a soup kitchen." That's what happens when you lose all your ill-gotten gains. You play bingo till the end of your life.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 7:05 AM on March 23, 2009


I imagine Bernie got a ton of penis enlargement spam...but he certainly didn't need any ball enhancement.

After pissing off as many mohelim as he did, I'd be a little worried about the state of my boy parts if I were Bernie.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:06 AM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


it would still be completely idiotic to invest your entire savings with one institution. I'm sympathetic to anyone conned by Madoff, but... it's weird, that's all.

Three weeks ago, on This American Life, "host Ira Glass speaks with Harold Wilshinsky about a piece of advice he gave to his daughter and son-in-law over 15 years ago: take your money out of the hands of Bernie Madoff, and diversify. Reluctantly, they listened to Harold, even though his son-in-law’s family was making a fortune investing with Madoff. But as history would have it, Harold would come out in the know." (8 minutes)
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:07 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Madoff fucked over Elie freakin' Wiesel (not to mention his foundation).

I imagine Yahweh is hard at work inventing a Jewish Hell for a schmuck of this magnitude.
posted by bardic at 7:11 AM on March 23, 2009


"After pissing off as many mohelim as he did, I'd be a little worried about the state of my boy parts if I were Bernie."

The hours and pay are terrible, but the tips are great.

posted by bardic at 7:12 AM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


What is interesting is that, fifteen years ago, investing with Madoff and then getting out a few years later might well have been a good idea. It's not the fact that it is a pyramid scheme which makes it a poor investment, it's that you never know when is a good time to get out.
posted by adipocere at 7:25 AM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Same with Enron. Same with (dating myself here) WorldCom. AOL, etc. etc. Christ, GM even.

But I guess the difference is that those companies, to varying degrees, provided a product and/or service.
posted by bardic at 7:35 AM on March 23, 2009


Those letters are heartbreaking to read. Some of these people seemed to lose their entire life savings. But at the same time, I don't understand why these people didn't diversify their investments. Isn't that something that is drummed into every investor's head? I'm pretty young and don't have that many investments because, well, I don't have much money, but even I know that. The worst was the letter from the teacher who 4 months ago decided to move all her money from her diverse investments and put $250K in a Madoff subsidiary fund -- this is soon after she retired! Who does that?

I, of course, still feel bad for all the people who lost money. Even if you invest in different places, you would still be losing some of your savings.
posted by bluefly at 8:03 AM on March 23, 2009


Here's a good profile of Madoff from New York magazine.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:19 AM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Twin Citians

Is this really what you call yourselves?


Yup, it really is. For those who actually reside in one of the two cities, you have the option of specifying "St. Paulites" or "Minneapolitans". But collectively, and to include the suburbanites, it's "Twin Citians'.
posted by marsha56 at 8:29 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Twin Citizens" has been offered up, but nobody is biting.

In the meanwhile, "Twincy" is gaining some currency as a nickname for the Twin Cities, which makes me want to scream. Just scream for hours and hours and hours.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:38 AM on March 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Having all your investments in one place= bad idea!
Maybe our Congress should take a look at this mess and glean a lesson from it:
Too big to fail= bad idea!
AIG allowed to be a bank, and an investment firm, and an insurance company, and a hedge fund, and whatever...see there ARE good reason to REGULATE business- otherwise, like AIG, we end up with a mess that has to be supported and fixed by the taxpayers.

There are good reasons for anti-trust laws. There are good reasons for many small banks- otherwise we end up with a few BIG banks, whose mistakes get us in a mess.

Wake up Congress, it is on YOU to fix this. Many small, diverse institutions would be much safer than a few mega-ones!

Bigger, better, more is NOT good.
posted by GreyFoxVT at 8:42 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


So says shakespeherian.

Take it up with Eliot.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:45 AM on March 23, 2009


Isn't that something that is drummed into every investor's head?

People who aren't particularly interested in finance or investing often don't know even the absolute basics of investing. And having a lot of money doesn't make them immune, they will just hand the money to an "expert" like Madoff who often doesn't have their best interests in mind. It would be nice if everyone was required to get some minimum level of investing knowledge in order to invest in the same way that everyone who wants a drivers license needs to actually know how to drive a car.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:46 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


"As Fox News announces that a plea deal my have been reached with Bernard Madoff, I felt as an American patriot I need to respond."

Indeed.
posted by SteveInMaine at 8:49 AM on March 23, 2009



I would be willing to bet that not one of these heartfelt pleas to be heard were answered by the us attorney's office.

These people were screwed by Bernie and then were screwed again by the attorneys trusted to prosecute him. In some letters they state that this is the second time they have written and they have heard nothing back. The only way that victims were able to be heard in court was to show up at the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan early on the day of the hearing, but the attorneys would never tell you that.
posted by csw at 8:50 AM on March 23, 2009


People who aren't particularly interested in finance or investing often don't know even the absolute basics of investing. And having a lot of money doesn't make them immune

My mom (who does not have a lot of money) was looking for an investment adviser earlier last year. One of the guys she met with recommended buying something called "C-Shares" in big financial companies, you know like Merill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Bear Stearns, etc.
posted by delmoi at 8:52 AM on March 23, 2009


I don't understand why these people didn't diversify their investments. Isn't that something that is drummed into every investor's head? I'm pretty young and don't have that many investments because, well, I don't have much money, but even I know that. The worst was the letter from the teacher who 4 months ago decided to move all her money from her diverse investments and put $250K in a Madoff subsidiary fund -- this is soon after she retired! Who does that?

Diversify usually means diversify your portfolio, not your investment manager. The hope is that your investment managers diversify for you.
posted by delmoi at 8:54 AM on March 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think Madoff's swindle was avoidable by people who did careful due diligence. His funds apparently didn't make sense, even at the beginning, and he was very secretive about how things were invested. I could imagine being taken in by Madoff's return history, but I can't imagine thinking it'd be safe to put all my money in with him.

But I'm a pretty sophisticated investor with the time and skills to investigate financial products dispassionately. Madoff didn't need money from skeptics; he had a wide ranging social network of friends to exploit. Folks who'd trust that nice man at the Club and hadn't he made everyone else rich why not me too? It's a classic con, and I have a lot of sympathy for his victims.

That being said, these letters are illiterate nonsense.
posted by Nelson at 9:03 AM on March 23, 2009


Lots of just-world bias going on in this thread. "Oh, you should have diversified!" "Anyone could have told you this was a fraud." That Madoff capitalized on his national reputation to run a decades-long Ponzi scheme is not the fault of his victims, regardless of whether or not you choose to imagine that in similar circumstances you might have been smarter or more canny...
posted by gerryblog at 9:12 AM on March 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Actually, weren't these letters to the DA, about what had happened to them, as opposed to letters between madoff and his victims.
posted by delmoi at 9:29 AM on March 23, 2009


I'm not blaming the victims; like I said in my comment, I feel bad for them. I don't think I would have known it was a fraud either. I was just surprised that these people had invested all their money with one firm. I guess I see how the social aspect influenced people to trust Madoff.
posted by bluefly at 9:32 AM on March 23, 2009


That Madoff capitalized on his national reputation to run a decades-long Ponzi scheme is not the fault of his victims, regardless of whether or not you choose to imagine that in similar circumstances you might have been smarter or more canny

I agree that blaming the victim instead of the criminal is wrong, but that's clearly not what's going on here. What Madoff did was obviously illegal, and if the regulatory agencies had done their jobs more effectively the scam would have been found out a long time ago. Ultimately criminals like Madoff are the only ones to blame in situations like this, and those in charge of enforcing the laws are the only protection. Like all scams, some victims would recognize it as a scam, many others would not, so it's not reasonable to assume that everyone should be able to protect themselves.

But in my opinion there is an general problem with people not knowing the basics of finance and investments. Again, I'm not blaming anyone for not knowing how investing works, but the fact that so many people are investing billions of dollars into things that they know nothing about is a big problem. I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of people who fell for Madoff's Ponzi scheme had never even heard of a Ponzi scheme before, let alone know how to tell one from a legitimate investment. And it's not just outright scams either, people are getting nickel and dimed or talked into bad investments all the time.

The bottom line is that many people, both those who did and didn't invest in Madoff's scheme, have never received any kind of unbiased education about making personal finance or investment decisions. Big news stories like people losing their life savings to Madoff or Enron make this fact more obvious, but it's true all the time.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:34 AM on March 23, 2009


but the fact that so many people are investing billions of dollars into things that they know nothing about is a big problem

I work at a financial services company and sometimes have to sit in for reception for a half-hour or so. You would not believe how many people have thousands or millions of dollars in our hands and don't even know the name of their broker.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:41 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


C'mon gerryblog, all investments are risks. The higher the risk, the higher the reward. Madoff's market-beating rewards implied some measure of risk. And you are asking for it if you have all your eggs in one basket.

Madoff ripped off his investors with a complete lie. Enron was... an incomplete lie. The financial sector of Wall St has substantially ripped off just about all investors, and others besides, through irresponsible practices. The differences are merely of degree, it seems.

also, what burnmp3s said.
posted by Artful Codger at 9:48 AM on March 23, 2009


I think Madoff's swindle was avoidable by people who did careful due diligence.

It was. That's why many of his victims are high net worth individuals who invested with him directly, and not large institutions who are required to do their due dilligence before they invest money on behalf of their beneficiaries. Madoff never made the cut.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:01 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


you would not believe how many people have thousands or millions of dollars in our hands and don't even know the name of their broker.

I'm not sure what that means. I'm one of those people I suppose but thats because I'm more of a buy-and-hold type. I go years without talking to my brokers so when I call them up...well, yes, there's some initial confusion.
posted by vacapinta at 10:05 AM on March 23, 2009


It's a good point that people should know more about investing; but even that doesn't seem like it would have helped the Madoff victims. I mean, 'learn about investing' means getting information about it, how it works, what's going on, &c... and the victims of Madoff went to a guy who had helped found and run NASDAQ. I am not a financial expert, and I wouldn't begin to know where to find one -- but a guy who'd run NASDAQ, who operated one of the largest securities firms in the world, who managed investments for some of the richest people in the country, would seem like a prime choice for an expert on the markets. And I'm sure he blew plenty of smoke up their asses whenever they asked a question about how it all worked. Not only that, but everybody and his dog vouched for Bernie Madoff's expertise and facility in finance, so these people were constantly encouraged to believe that they were getting sound, high-quality advice from one of the top experts in the field. I'd never heard of the anti-Madoff people that are so famous all of a sudden, and I'll bet even most financially savvy people hadn't, either.

Unfortunately, it's not easy to 'educate yourself' when the only way know you'll gain real knowledge of the subject is to actually be an investment manager.
posted by koeselitz at 10:12 AM on March 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


That Madoff capitalized on his national reputation to run a decades-long Ponzi scheme is not the fault of his victims...

Well that's taking it a bit far. All successful cons depend on the credulity of their victims; that's sort of the defining element of a "con" -- gaining somebody else's confidence.

Whether blame gets assigned (by the courts or, more usually, just by public opinion) to the con man or to the mark depends in large part on what impulse the con took advantage of. When the con plays on an impulse that society thinks is admirable and wants to encourage, like charity -- people who have pretended to have cancer so they could set up collection jugs at local businesses and pocket the donations, for example -- the blame falls squarely on the con man. But when the impulse that allows a person to get conned is a base one, that as a society we don't want to encourage -- cheating someone who's already cheating, or thinks they're cheating (a la The Sting) -- we tend to put the blame on the mark: the "victim's" loss is a result of their own failing, and the con man is merely a mechanism by which they got their comuppance.

The Madoff scandal sits somewhere in the middle of those extremes (obviously). On one hand, the desire of Madoff's victims to make money and grow their wealth is understandable. But on the other hand, those who lost the most ignored a great deal of standard wisdom and investment advice in the pursuit of higher gains: depending on how charitable you wanted to be, you could call that foolishness or greed. Insofar as either one is frowned upon in our society, the victims get assigned a certain amount of complicity in their own downfall. Those who appear to have been the most foolish/greedy will, naturally, get the greatest share of the blame, or at best the least sympathy.

The real question, looking forward, is exactly where we want to draw the line: how much responsibility should individuals have for managing their own assets, and how much trust should they put in others whose goals may necessarily be at odds with their own? Not simply in the legal sense -- clearly Madoff was a criminal -- but in the broader definition of what we think is wise and admirable, and want to encourage: that's the standard that future victims and con men will be judged by the public with.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:33 AM on March 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


I think Madoff's swindle was avoidable by people who did careful due diligence.

You might be surprised - early on in the process of this going tits up were mentions of people and institutions looking sideways at the rates of return, and diving in anyway because while they figured something shady was going on, they thought it was insider tranding or somesuch, rather than a ponzi scheme.
posted by rodgerd at 10:44 AM on March 23, 2009


The Minneapolis/St. Paul arts community is reeling because of this. A surprising number of Twin Citians were Madoff investors, and many of them were the backbone of the philanthropic community here. There are arts organizations that had their budgets hugely slashed because of or two donors are now broke -- donors that represented twenty percent or more of their annual budget. I don't know how this has affected local charities, but I suspect it's similar.

Wait, really? I'm working at a theatre in Minneapolis, and have been a member of the arts community since I moved here last summer, I didn't hear about this--I thought that local theatres and other arts orgs were just collapsing because of the general breakdown of financial support for the arts around here, compounded by the economy, the fact that a lot of small theatre companies run on a shoestring budget to begin with, and especially the fact that granting organizations have seen their endowments tank since the fall. I hadn't heard Madoff's name brought in at all. Dare I ask what organizations you're talking about?
posted by Subcommandante Cheese at 11:01 AM on March 23, 2009


This is why I invest all my money with Wu-Tang Financial.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:08 AM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hate the rich as happily as anyone else BUT I sometimes mix with people who are very, very wealthy (and charming) - a total accident due to work. I was chatting to a very, very smart retired CFO - part of the rich set himself - he had not invested with Madoff (because he personally wasn't actually rich enough for a Madoff introduction!) and he was trotting out the usual line - "anyone who looked hard at the Madoff returns year after year should have known something was up..."

So I said: "Okaaay. Then what about "X" ?" and I named another, still high flying, investment guru. Someone very well known in "our" circle, also with a closed circle of investors, a guy named by Tom Wolfe in his recent, wonderful article about the New Masters of the Universe.

I said (somewhat pertly): "I thought part of "X"'s legend is that he, too, has been bucking year on year returns with incredible numbers. I thought everyone was always murmuring in awed tones about his Midas Touch, without being able to understand it. Why isn't HE under amazing suspicion too?".

The lovely CFO - who had been nodding away at my praise of "X", suddenly looked absolutely horrified at me. And said "But we all know "X"!! He's on the same board as I am for (A,B & C). He couldn't possibly be a crook...."

(There's no real point to this I guess. Except that, yes, smart people can be strangely trusting!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:08 AM on March 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


The problem with the general public having a low level of understanding of how investments work is that they treat it as an analogue of something they also barely understand but are more familiar with: a casino. On the surface, sure, both are forms of "gambling", and most people seem to approach both in equal ignorance of probability and financial markets. The difference is that most non-addicted people do not walk into a casino with their life savings because it "has to go somewhere".
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:27 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


That Madoff capitalized on his national reputation to run a decades-long Ponzi scheme is not the fault of his victims...

Well that's taking it a bit far. All successful cons depend on the credulity of their victims; that's sort of the defining element of a "con" -- gaining somebody else's confidence.


Actually, most classic cons depend on the greed of their victims. Thus, even if it's "too good to be true", people's desires get in the way of their skepticism.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:31 AM on March 23, 2009


and the victims of Madoff went to a guy who had helped found and run NASDAQ.

Ok, partial retraction. This is a major problem, too. People often can't be bothered to read below a headline, nevermind understand economics well enough to not to some degree depend on arguments from authority. I'll be quiet now.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:33 AM on March 23, 2009


"(There's no real point to this I guess. Except that, yes, smart people can be strangely trusting!)"

Yes, and Madoff was a former NASDAQ chairman. The guy has serious connections. The mutual level of trust runs really deep with someone like that. But it's still not smart to put everything with one guy or one fund.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:39 AM on March 23, 2009


"This is a major problem, too. People often can't be bothered to read below a headline, nevermind understand economics well enough to not to some degree depend on arguments from authority."

That is very much how business works, however, on social networks of trust. I don't think this will change, but hopefully people will do their homework a bit more carefully and at the least diversify, and maybe we can better fund the SEC, just as a start.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:41 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


That Madoff capitalized on his national reputation to run a decades-long Ponzi scheme is not the fault of his victims...

Well that's taking it a bit far. All successful cons depend on the credulity of their victims; that's sort of the defining element of a "con" -- gaining somebody else's confidence.


You can put your money in the local bank and find out later that the jead banker was a crook and your money is all gone. Is that your fault? Where would you draw the credulity line--where you should have a reasonable expectation to trust or you should have known better?

And if you can't trust anyone, not even banks, and you aren't an investment analyzer, where can you put your retirement money? For most of us, somewhere along the line you have to trust some people, and if those people turn out to be crooks, there will always be those who say it is our fault.
posted by eye of newt at 11:45 AM on March 23, 2009


Dare I ask what organizations you're talking about?

subcommandante_cheese, the Werner Foundation in Minnetonka was a big supporter of the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Walker Art Center, and was heavily invested with Madoff. A couple of months ago, the wife of the founder, Violet Werner, announced that her Foundation would be unable to continue to make charitable contributions.

More here.

Also see: "Local reports estimate that investors in St. Paul and Minneapolis may have lost a half-billion dollars or more by placing their bets with Mr. Madoff - a huge amount for the relatively small size of the Twin Cities."
posted by zarq at 12:40 PM on March 23, 2009


"All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz, and by and by I learned that most appropriately the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs had entrusted him with the making of a report for its future guidance...."
"And this also," said Marlow suddenly, "has been one of the dark places of the earth."
posted by Smedleyman at 2:36 PM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


nevermind understand economics well enough to not to some degree depend on arguments from authority

When you can do it from first principles, then I'll invest my money with you.

Hell, if you can figure out what "first principles" even means in economics, that'll be good enough.
posted by kiltedtaco at 3:05 PM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did some of you folks not read the emails? They're mostly asking the Judge not to let Ruth Madoff keep her $60M flat, to show no leniency because of a plea deal, and some suggest that all the family be rounded up and no wealth remain with them. I'm all for the post-financial crisis schadenfreude and agree that many investors were investing with him because Bernie Madoff was slimy and was giving them slimy returns. However, many of those emails are from individuals who had their modest life savings. In addition to his friends, family, and those on the Jewish country club circuit, Bernie kept money for people who did not give it to him directly but had it in funds who invested with him. They deserve to see this man and his family and all beneficiaries punished. Also, we as the public, should be more sympathetic to those who came into the ponzi scheme later: in short, those who did not receive fat payouts, which was essentially other peoples' money; and to those who did not invest with Bernie directly or through the country club circuit. It's the slimy investors who were in it for the long haul like Hadassah (it invested $90M, according to the linked NYMag article, but earned $130M, getting $40M from later investors) who should also have to disgorge their ill-gotten gains. And Ruth Madoff, her kids, and all others who benefited should be stalked by menacing paparazzi wherever they go. They should be booed out of restaurants and streets, out of shops until they cannot leave their homes even to buy groceries and those who profited off of them have to act as delivery boys, stalked by the same paparazzi. It is outrageous that Bernie was able to stay in his flat out on bail for weeks after the story broke, where he would have ample time to spirit away all his ill-gotten gains: again, direct cash handouts from other people. C'mon you New Yorkers, public shaming is the only way left to go, given the latest cozying up between the administration's viziers, Summers and Geithner, and cash rich hedge fund and private equity scum.
posted by Azaadistani at 4:06 PM on March 23, 2009


"Unfortunately, it's not easy to 'educate yourself' when the only way know you'll gain real knowledge of the subject is to actually be an investment manager."

Well, one real big red flag is that he'd get defensive when questioned about his methods. If you test his purported strategy, it doesn't get anywhere near what he put on his books. His returns weren't realistic year-over-year, which is something you can understand even as a novice investor, but they also didn't reflect reality at all, but people who asked him about it who had backtested his strategy were given a big guilt trip about prying and not trusting him. He also played up the angle that his fund was exclusive, but to hook someone he'd pretend to reconsider and let someone in "as a favor." He relied on people trusting him more than they should have, but he was very clever in his ability to hide in plain sight for so long.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:25 PM on March 23, 2009


"but to hook someone he'd pretend to reconsider and let someone in 'as a favor.'"

BTW, one financial advisor said he didn't trust Madoff when offered to get a piece of the fund, but it was because he was supposedly letting him in on a better deal than he was giving his longtime clients, and he just met the guy. His point was, who does business like that? Nobody, particularly not a guy with his stature. So, it just smelled funny right away.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:29 PM on March 23, 2009


From what I understand, a lot of his investors thought he was dirty, but dirty in an "insider info" way (which in itself didn't explain his remarkably consistent returns. I assume they thought he was skimming any extra.) So they were completely willing to have him risk the hit and not ask any questions. Worse came to worst, they would have to re-invest elsewhere while Bernie went to jail.

The ones I feel sorry for are the folks who invested in the other funds that did nothing more than turn around, hand it all to Bernie, and take their cut.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:18 PM on March 24, 2009


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