Bernie Madoff, operator of world's largest Ponzi scheme, dead at 82

Originally published at: Bernie Madoff, operator of world's largest Ponzi scheme, dead at 82 | Boing Boing


The guy made Charles Ponzi look like a piker. He swindled his clients out of billions of dollars over the course of his con. The total is estimated to be somewhere around $17.5 billion dollars. (For context, Charles Ponzi’s $10 million in 1919 would equal around $124 million in 2009), and his scam symbolizes the Wall Street greed, both in his own actions as well as in the actions of those who “invested” with him.

Many of his clients were wealthy people and financial institutions, making his crime a remote thing for the majority of people. But there were also many charities and a few ordinary folks in there, too. And the fact that he was able to pull his scheme off under the noses of regulators is sometimes cited as an ancillary contributor to the financial crisis of 2009.


This sociopath never expressed any remorse. His own son killed himself out of shame and he just shrugged it off. I’m glad he died in prison (and let’s be clear: the only reason that happened was because he swindled wealthy people and institutions).

Very true. The returns he was promising were not grounded in reality but in his marks’ greed.


To this day it’s totally shameful that the regulators and prosecutors basically punished Madoff alone, when there’s simply no possible way that he pulled off this con for this long without a lot of employees and family members as co-conspirators.


He stole from people rich enough to have money to invest, so he went to jail.


There’s never going to be enough justice for these kinds of people. If they could have found a way to keep him alive and in prison for the entire 150 year sentence, maybe, but this “died in prison after only 12 years” just doesn’t cut it.


People who do terrible things don’t deserve to be headlines or top stories when they die.


yep. And that’s why we see this very rare occurrence of a criminal rich guy rot in jail: he preyed on other rich guys. Were he to just cheat rob rape the poor to lower middle class folk he’d be golfing.


“…Doubly dying , shall go down. To the vile dust, from whence he sprung, Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.”


Goodbye GIF


Roger That!



If we have an education system, eventually, that isn’t steeped in conservative propaganda, we might stop refilling this pool of filth and work toward extinction.


Just to be clear for those unfamiliar with a Ponzi scheme. The problem isn’t that he made poor investments. For the most part he DIDN’T invest the money that people gave him. Instead he used the money from new investors to pay any existing investors that took money out. All the while, he was issuing investors statements saying that their investments had huge earnings that he had no ability to pay back. This wasn’t a liquidity miss-match that can happen with a run on the bank, as made famous in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The money wasn’t tied up in mortgages or difficult to sell assets. It had already been spent and paid out to earlier investors.


Isn’t it more of


Mr. Linkey’s response: “We wasted a COVID vaccine on that bastard.”



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That’s one thing that kept him mostly under the radar though; he didn’t report wild returns. He reported about 10% which is a relatively conservative return (S&P500 return for the period in question, just under 11% with dividends reinvested). If he had promised or reported some crazy return then he probably would have had more scrutiny into his investments. His returns were “reliable” - way too consistent for reality of course.

He was promising consistent returns of 11-12% with little volatility, never suffering an annual loss. Life doesn’t work that way, unless one is blinded by greed.

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Sure, that’s… what I said. His returns were not that high, lower in fact than many competing funds, they were just consistent. Too consistent. So it was not “greed,” so much, that was a motivator. A misguided belief that such consistent returns were possible, sure. But most ponzi schemes offer wild returns like 25% - 40% - 300% etc. 11% average is not only within the realm of possibility, it’s quite conservative. It’s the 11% always that’s not realistic.

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10% (or “about 10%”) != 11%. And yes, greedpigs tend to assume that returns can’t go down (in addition to those average returns being unusually high).

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