One of the most well known schemer and criminal of the white collar field was Bernie Madoff. The chameleon created an impression of being a nice and caring person at work, but ironically, deep down inside he was a deranged money hungry criminal. Many people could not believe the news they were hearing after he had confessed to the crimes he committed because he was really good at hiding the true person he was. He was a master at impression management. Quoted from Diana Goldberg “He was a hero to us, the head of NASDAQ. We were proud of everything he had accomplished”. They believed in him, he gained everyone’s trust by manipulating them and then went on to being the man behind the world’s largest and biggest pansy scheme ever. Everyone was devastated and left in shock.
Bernie Madoff was born on April 29th, 1938 in Queens, New York. Madoff was like your typical teenager; interested in girls, wanted to have fun, and enjoyed swimming, which caused him to join a swim team. When Madoff wasn’t at competitions, he was a life guard. He quickly learned the challenge of saving money. While being a life guard he saved 5,000 dollars with also help from his side job of installing sprinkler systems, which was what he used to start off his investment company. After earning his degree in political science from Hofstra University and marrying his high school sweetheart Ruth Alpern, Madoff went on to using the 5,000 dollars he made from being a life guard and opened up Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC. It expanded fast and became a popular business with the help of his father in
law and popular clients that were on his list, like Steven Spielberg. His company quickly grew and got involved in more things. Succeeding, he later on became the president of a well known stock exchange named NASDAQ. His career was booming and exceeding to its highest level possible until he got caught by the redemptions of the 7 billion dollars he was faced with.
A well educated psychologist named J. Reid Meloy made a very interesting comparison which concluded a similarity between Bernie Madoff and serial killers, such as Ted Bundy.
“They say that whereas Mr. Bundy murdered people, Mr. Madoff murdered wallets, bank accounts and people’s sense of financial trust and security. Like Mr. Bundy, Mr. Madoff used a sharp mind and an affable demeanor to create a persona that didn’t exist, according to this view, and lulled his victims into a false sense of security. And when publicly accused, he seemed to show no remorse.”(Creswell, Thomas, Par 67)
Despite the fact that he didn’t kill people or seriously injure them, Madoff hurt people in ways they couldn’t imagine, emotionally and financially. Bernie made people feel that he was a loyal trustworthy man and lured people into investing their life savings which are all gone now. He ruined thousands of people’s lives, education, homes and futures. Some people labeled him the financial God due to the fact that he had control over people’s money by being able to take whoever’s money and as much money as he wanted.
“One reason that Madoff was so successful was that he was a highly respected, well-established and esteemed financial expert — his reputation was bolstered by the fact that he helped found the NASDAQ stock exchange and served a term as its chair.” (McGrath, Par 2)
If Madoff didn’t help create the NASDAQ exchange and portray this image of being a man people could trust, he would have never been able to take advantage of people and create this Ponzi scheme in the first place.
The actual scandal is still extremely difficult to explain because it still hasn’t been fully exploited. It wasn’t done alone. Madoff had help from colleagues and it is even suspected that some of his family members were involved due to the fact that he brought in a lot of family members to the job over the years including his sons. His sons were actually the ones who reported him to federal authorities. Some people who were involved were Frank Avellino, Frank DiPascali, and Jeffery Picower. In order for the prosecutors to bring Madoff to court, they had to go through a series of junior employees and squeeze as much information from them to have enough supporting details and evidence to move up on the table. “Madoff had dealings with a variety of banks and hedge funds, and burned Madoff investors have tried to recoup funds from some of them. Madoff held an account at JPMorgan Chase that he used to shuffle money between offices in London and New York. In 2011, two Madoff investors sued the bank for $19 million, claiming they aided in his fraud, according to CNN. At the time, a JPMorgan spokesman dismissed the lawsuit as meritless.” (Cohn)
Bernie Madoff wasn’t going to be easy to take down because he tried to always back trace all his steps so he wouldn’t leave clues. For example, in 1992 his name was brought up in a Huge SEC investigation pertaining to one of his feeder funds. In the case he was seen as the model citizen. Avenillo and Beines were accused for running an unregistered securities operation for 441 million dollars. They tried to shut the firm down and then noticed that money was peacefully in Madoff hands. He returned the money with no problems in 8 days. When they checked on him to make sure everything was legal, it was. He showed that he did everything by the book, even routine queries. He almost got caught being involved in a ponzi scheme in the year 2001 for about 6 to 7 billion dollars. Yet again, he escaped for the reason that he personally involved himself. He was a smart criminal with clever attributes. They couldn’t even trace it to find evidence on whether or not he was a criminal, even from his earlier days. He was always suspected but then cleared once he stepped in and took charge of what was going on. He would always self prepare himself. But Madoff finally confessed on March 12th 2009 and was found guilty on 11 charges of felony counts. His scandal is portrayed as the biggest financial scam of all time because before he was
arrested his firm’s statement showed a total of 65 billion dollars in the accounts. When he was arrested he didn’t just lose his money and reputation becoming the evil monster, he also lost his family and friends. No one wanted to have any kind of contact with him. Not even his sons had spoken to him since the arrest. His son later on committed suicide by hanging himself on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest.
Over the months, it has rather difficult to find this mysterious 65 billion dollars that was claimed to be taken. Numerous investigators argue that the 65 billion dollars was an inaccurate statement, and in fact over all the years, it was about 20 billion in total. And yet even 20 billion dollars they won’t find it all. It is still the largest finical crime ever to occur in the U.S. Bernie Madoff didn’t just make a financial mess for the present time, but the future as well. The Madoff name will be cursed forever now. All those families and investors have lost everything, and are presently trying to get back on their feet to balance things out and make ends meet.
Although his life looked sweet from the outside, in the early years no one knew the corrupted criminal Madoff was. Before he pleaded guilty and was accused, he had the life everyone would love to live. He had a yacht on the French Riviera, two private jets, and a pent house in Manhattan. Bernie Madoff was seen as a respected and trustworthy man but it was all deceit. Madoff was a fraud, a thief and better yet a psychopath. When he got caught unlike most criminals, he pleaded guilty and had no remorse prior to his actions and how it affected people. He destroyed people’s lives and ruined their futures all for his fortune. He was selfish and arrogant. Madoff has now been sentenced to 150 years in a maximum security prison.