Bernard Lawrence Madoff, the brain behind the largest Ponzi scheme in American history, was born in 1938 during a depressing era. America just went through the Great Depression and was now headed into World War II. The Madoff family were Jewish, and Bernie grew up in a prodominitly Jewish community in Queens, New York. In high school, Bernie Madoff met his future wife, Ruth Alpern. Bernie and Ruth Madoff had two sons, Mark and Andy.
Madoff’s scam started through an affinity bunko scam, which led to an enormous Ponzi scheme. An affinity criminal targets “victims who are linked to them by religion or ethnic background” (textbook, pg. ). The con artist will pay the first group of investors ...view middle of the document...
Access to this floor was limited to Bernie Madoff and a select few people. This floor was where the fraud took place. About two dozen employees, produced fake trade receipts for Madoff’s investors on outdated computers and printers. Bernie Madoff’s extensive client list was not discriminatory. It included a few famous names (such as: Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, and Steven Spielburg); many charitable organizations, and multiple financial firms.
Many people have speculated Madoff’s reasoning behind his decision to commit fraud. One article stated he was “a greedy manipulator so hungry to accumulate wealth that he did not care whom he hurt to get what he wanted” (Creswell & Thomas, 2009). The obvious motivation is greed; however, was is just greed for monetary gain or the power that money brings?
Regardless of Madoff’s rationale, Bernie Madoff was an egomaniac, who convinced a vast amount of people he was investing their hard-earned savings, while he frittered it all away. Amazingly enough, Bernie Madoff was highly respected and well-liked. People paid an extravagant amount of money to be apart of his club. Madoff had his dream life on the outside, he relished being coveted by his peers. At the expense of his victims, Bernie Madoff obtained an extensive wardrobe including: more than 50 custom-tailored suits, hundreds of Italian loafers, and many Rolex watches. Despite his apparent wealth Bernie Madoff was completely bankrupt.
In December of 2008, Bernie Madoff’s scheme came to an abrupt end. The story as retold by Andrew and Ruth is: on December 10, 2008 Bernie called a family meeting with his wife and sons. He supposedly confessed that all this time he had been running a Ponzi scheme, his investment business was a fraud, and there was nothing left. Ruth was stunned and confused asking “what’s a Ponzi scheme?” Mark was furious and left the room. The next day Mark and Andrew
In a CBS 60 Minutes interview, Ruth Madoff admitted to attempting suicide with her husband:
I don't know who-- whose idea it was. But we decided to kill ourselves because it was-- it was so horrendous what was happening. We had terrible phone calls, hate mail. Just beyond anything. And I said, "I can't-- I just can't go on anymore." That's when I packed up some things to send to my sons and my grandchildren. I had some lovely antique things and things that I thought they might want. I mailed them, it was Christmas Eve, that added to the whole depression. We took pills and woke up the next day. (Ruth Madoff, 2011)
The total amount of actual funds entrusted to Bernie for investment was $20 billion. However, Bernie had promised investors a grand sum of $65 billion; so, the difference of $45 billion was only a “figment of Bernie's imagination” (Smith, 2013). For the monetary amount of fraud he committed over such a long period of time, Madoff absolutely deserved life imprisonment; however,...