Madoff was born on April 29, 1938 in Queens, New York. His parents, Ralph and Sylvia, got
married during the Great Depression in which they were struggling financially. Ralph was a plumber and his wife was
Ralph and Sylvia decided to get involved in finance. Their company was shut down due to
his parents not reporting its finances which people believe was all a front for
Ralph’s illegal deals.
Though his parents were interested in finances, Bernie was not during the time
that all of this occurred.
While in high school, Bernie enjoyed
swimming for the school team.
He ended up getting a job as a lifeguard at the Silver Point Beach Club in Long
Island which is when he began saving up his money to invest in something in the
After graduating from college, Bernie attended University of Alabama for a year
and then transferred to a school back in Long Island called Hofstra University. He received his bachelor’s degree in
Political Science and then enrolled in Brooklyn Law School. He did not continue at the law
school because him and his wife, Ruth, founded an investment firm which was
called Bernard L.
Madoff Investment Securities, LLC.
He used the money that he saved up in high school and $50,000 borrowed to be
able to open this firm.
His firm was well known for its
returns of 10% or more of returns and held more than 5% of the trading on the
New York Stock Exchange. This
type of return is what most investors seek to put their money into which is why
it was successful. His
business continued to grow due to the help from his father-in-law who was a
retired certified public accountant. Also,
as the business continued to expand, he started to employ family members into
the business to help.
He employed his brother, Peter, and Peter’s son and daughter along with
Madoff’s own sons. Madoff
Securities was very successful, and they adapted to the technological changes
as the years went on.
Madoff’s firm was one of the firsts to help get the National Association of
Securities Dealers Automated Quotations started which then lead to Madoff
becoming the chairman for three years.
One of Bernie Madoff’s branches was
based off of a ponzi scheme which he came forward about to his sons. A ponzi scheme is a fraudulent
During these schemes, the investors are convinced that the company is going to
make payments of high rates and quickly back to the investors. However, when a company does this,
it takes the money from newer investors and generates returns for the older
This means that the money that is received from the new investors funds goes
back to pay back the older investors rather than from actual business
activities or profit from financial trading.
Bernie admitted to his sons that the
wealth management branch of his firm was an elaborate ponzi scheme. His sons went to the federal
authorities and turned him in.
Bernie had defrauded thousands of investors from thousands, to millions, and
even into the billions of dollars range.
He had done all of this in the course of around 17 years. Madoff has created the biggest ponzi
scheme in history.
As most people who get involved with ponzi schemes, they see how easy it is to
get money from people especially if they have a well-known name. People would come to Bernie’s company
because they advertised high rates and quick returns. He constantly felt the need to
continue to do it and felt as if he would never get caught.
It was easy for Bernie Madoff to
commit this time of scheme.
There are many aspects that helped him along the way to continue his fraudulent
He did not think he would ever get caught and one of the major reasons is
because it is his own firm.
He owned the firm and also was the chairman of the firm. He also was the chairman and helped
the National Association Securities Dealers Automated Quotations get off the
Why would anyone think that someone who is so successful and has been held to
such a high standard in the finance world is a bad person? That is one main
reason that he was so successful with his firm.
He was thought to be reliable since he was high up in the finance world;
however, that was obviously wrong.
Bernie Madoff had legitimate access
to everything in the company. Legitimate
access is when someone has a reasonable reason to have access to whatever place
they are in.
A person has legitimate access to whatever they are taking. He was the owner and the chairman. He was the head of the entire
This gave him the legitimate access that he needed in order to begin the
largest ponzi scheme in history.
No one would question what he was doing because he is supposed to be looking at
all of the information that is provided by the investors. He is supposed to have access to
everything that is brought into the company from investors. Having legitimate access gave him
the ability to take the funds from new investors and make returns to older
Bernie did not feel bad for his
He lost people’s life savings because they trusted this business and was told
that their was little to no risk in investing into this company. People did not see anything wrong
with the company because everything that they heard was positive. Madoff stole from people. However, he stole from people using
spatial separation of victim. Spatial
separation from the victim is when the person is not physically interacting
with others who they are taking from.
In Bernie’s case, this means that he did not have physical one on one contact
with the investor/victim that he was taking from.
All of this fraudulent behavior was done behind the backs of the investors
without their knowledge.
Madoff was always supposed to be at
He was supposed to have the access to all of the accounts, files, and anything
else that the company uses for their investors.
He used superficial appearance of legitimacy because it is his own company. Superficial Aooearance of legitimacy
is when a person does not look suspicious because they are supposed to be there. No one would think twice about the
owner and the chairman having access to the accounts that the money from the
investors went into.
It was completely normal for people to look at him as legitimate in his company
especially since the company is named after him, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC.
To continue onto some other tactics
that Madoff used to succeed for so long with his ponzi scheme, there some
techinques that he used which were deception, abuse of trust, and concealment
Deception occurs when one person is mislead by another in making things appear
in a way that’s different from reality.
Abuse of trust is when a client places trust in agents to do what is in the client’s
best interest; however, the agent ends up not doing what is best and takes
advantage of the client.
Concealment is when criminals try to mask the crime. Lastly, conspiracy is when they want
to conceal and coordinate activities to illegally benefit themselves without
actually revealing that they did an illegal activity.
Bernard Madoff did every single one of these techniques in his many
years of continuing with his ponzi scheme before he was caught.
As stated above, deception occurs
when one misleads another into thinking something is better than what it really
is. In Bernie’s case, this
was how he was able to grow his company through people in society and even
They learned how to smooth talk clients into investing their money into their
company in return for higher rates and quick returns. Madoff’s goal was to purposely
create a discrepancy between appearance and the actual reality of the company. People who invested their money
believed every word that the company said to them.
Why wouldn’t they? They are investing in a company that is owned by someone who
is high in the finance world.
There should be nothing sketchy about Bernard Madoff. However, he deceived all of the
People ended up losing a lot of money due to his deception. Those who were older investors were
able to get money back but those who were the newer investors basically lost
their hard earned money.
Bernie used another technique called
abuse of trust.
This is occurs in agent-client relationships.
Clients will go to agents to do things that the client does not have the
expertise to do themselves.
Madoff definitely violated the trust that his investors had when investing a
lot of their money into the company.
Clients put their trust into agents to do what is in the best interest of their
Madoff’s company basically slapped these investors in the face when everything
that they were told was a lie. Bernard
L. Madoff Investment
Securities abused the trust that their clients had in them. They abused their power to profit
off of investors without actually doing much work to profit through trading.
Concealment and conspiracy are very
popular to white collar criminals like Bernie Madoff. Concealment is used when they are
trying to mask the crime.
Bernie has said that he did all of this by himself but that is not what others
Bernie tried to mask the crime by not letting people in on what he was doing. Conspiracy is when someone conceals
and coordinates activities in order to illegally benefit from it without anyone
knowing that something illegal has been taken place. Bernie did things to benefit himself
and the members of his staff without letting them know what he was doing was
He manipulated his employees, investors, and those in society into thinking he
was not doing anything wrong.
The offender, Bernie Madoff, was
thought to be a great successful man in the industry. It is possible that he felt a sense
of superiority due to him owning the company.
This could have been an influencing factor for him when he realized that he
could do whatever he wanted with no one knowing.
It is also difficult to be caught for white collar crimes. Bernie being well known in the
finance industry could have made him believe that he would never get caught
because no one would suspect him to commit fraud.
He also had the opportunity. This is a major influencing factor
in cases of white collar crimes if they can seize an opportunity to benefit
Since the company was his, he had opportunities day after day to commit this
Bernie becoming involved in the finance world gave him the opportunity to take
from people especially within his own Wall Street firm. He saw an opportunity to begin a
scam and he did just that without any issues for about 17 years. Once someone likes the money that
they can make from committing a type of fraud, they will continue to do it. This is exactly what Bernie did.
As mentioned previously, Bernard
Madoff told his two sons, Mark and Andy, everything that he has done. He was unable to make as many client
redemption requests due to being low on the money that was the investors have
His sons turned him into the federal authorities and he was arrested the day
after on December 11, 2008. The
surprising thing is that the SEC had been investigating the firm on and off
since 1999 which made people furious considering the damage could have been
less if they would have done more with the investigation. Bernard Madoff cheated investors out
of billions of US dollars throughout the decades. His
son, Mark, committed suicide just two years after his father was arrested and
his other son, Andrew, died of cancer in 2014.
His horrible actions lead to some of the victims losing everything that they
had. It also lead to some of
his victims committing suicide.
William Foxton committed suicide in 2009 due to the shame of becoming bankrupt. Rene Thierry Magon De La Villehuchet
whose AIA group had lost $1.5
billion committed suicide a little after the news about the Ponzi scheme broke
out in 2008.
Another investor, Charles Murphy, lost almost $50 million due to the Ponzi
scheme and he also committed suicide due to not having enough money. There were also five other employees
of Madoff’s who were found guilty in the Ponzi scheme.
Bernard Madoff did not get away with
his scheme at all.
He was arrested the day after his sons went to the authorities and was charged
In 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty and was charged with 11 counts of securities
fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, perjury, and money laundering. He was convicted of his crimes and
was sentenced with the maximum about of time possible which was 150 years in
also had to forfeit $170 billion.
His three homes and his yacht were auctioned off. Madoff
admitted what he did to his sons and to the federal authorities that he lost
$50 billion of the investors money. Bernard
Madoff does not have any regrets and can live with the anger of the people that
he had taken billions of dollars from.
His only regret is that he betrayed his family and caused them so much pain.