Bernie Madoff Pt. 1: Wizard of Wall Street


It's a rainy morning on lexington avenue. In new york city. The sky brightened slightly special agent copay and agent kong park the car. The december sunrise makes little difference to copay who's been up since four a._m. Working this case just off to seven thirty they enter the luxury apartment building situated a myth three blocks from central park. The agents flash is there badges that the doorman and take the elevator to the penthouse they here to catch a thief. The two young agents a surprise to find the man waiting at the penthouse tool though he wears a pale blue bathrobe. He doesn't look like a man who's been up late partying in in fact with his silver hair and wrinkles. He doesn't look like a man who's ever up late partying surprisingly he smooth and collected and simply knots when the officials ask if he knows why here he's been betrayed by his own sons. After a short chat agents could shopian kong allow the thief to dress he chooses expensive clothing from the penthouse closet and agrees to go into the f._b._i.'s offices for questioning the agents pulls out his handcuffs and tells the man to extend his arms as the cold metal manacles click around bernie medoff's wrists sixty four point eight billion dollars vanish forever much of it will never be returned because most of that money money in retirement accounts charity endowments. It's family fortunes never existed in the first place. It was quote made off. Just one big nick welcome to con artists a pass original. I'm alstead it. Every week. We peel back the layers of history's greatest deceptions and tell the stories of the hustlers swindlers fraudsters that orchestrated them. I'll dive live into their psychology breakdown that tricks and explain why anyone might full for a con- connaught is seeks to explore cons from all angles the perpetrator a traitor the victim the world they lived in and the thing that forced them to fool o._b. Food in our first episode we'll cover the upbringing upbringing and early influences of fraudster will understand what experiences shaped their mindset and the historical context then informed their ability to perpetrate trait that comes in partout. We'll watch the wheels come off their scheme as their victims recognize the lie. We'll detail how our subject act was eventually caught the fallout and where they are today today. We're beginning the story of bernie madoff architect. The world's biggest known ponzi scheme in part one of our investigation. We'll dive into the life of bernie madoff and try to understand why a man already you ready inundated with incredible wealth would assign to orchestrate history's largest financial scam next week impart to we'll follow with the s._e._c.'s near misses in a decade long game of cat and mouse and the catalyst that finally brought made off down at podcast with grateful for you our listeners. You allow us to do what we love. Let us know how doing reach out on facebook and instagram at at podcast and twitter at podcast network and if you enjoy today's episode the best way to help his to leave a five star review wherever you're listening it it really does help from the nineteen eighties through two thousand eight having an investment testament's accounts with bernie madoff was either much sought-after privilege an up across status symbol or something completely in the dark about but everything everything about these investments everything made off had created was a complete lie. His downfall left many trusting clients destitute route and the weld completely stunned at the magnitude of his deception he stole from celebrities billionaire investors holocaust survivors athletes and team owners. He stole from individuals and charities retirement funds and nest eggs. He stole from his friends. He he stole from his family. The web of deceit was so complex that a significant portion of those affected was shocked to learn that they would defacto facto clients of medoff's as many as thirty seven thousand people felt that devastating fallout of made offs demise. It was truly the biggest financial scandal in weld history. His modus operandi was a fairly standard ponzi scheme named for conman conman charles ponzi a- ponzi scheme is a redistribution of wealth hiding behind a fake investment scheme it takes money from new investors and hands hands it to old ones meaning that the only way to pay the old investors is defined more and more people to buy into the fraudulent system without a steady stream of new blood. The entire operation goes up in flames. It is a system always on the verge of disaster sta and it is completely illegal but he didn't just use this ponzi scheme to prey on americans made off stretched his claws to a europe south america even africa by two thousand eight made of claimed he had sixty eight point four billion dollars in assets heads under management and yet for decades made off was known as a genius called magnetic and reassuring by those those who bragged about him at the country clubs and charity guardless. They likened him to his personal symbol. The bull as in bull market may off decorated his office with bulls to match this perfectly crafted image is what allowed made of to thrive his trademark charismatic presence and manufactured mystique shrouded him behind an exalted reputation. He was immensely wealthy. He was of high taste. He rarely met with clients but the ones that did meet him assured potential customers that investing investing with bernie madoff was the closest thing to assure phya bet wall street could offer a con artist operates operates on what people believe about the more than anything else and bernie madoff was tinkering with his public image as soon as he could do business. Uh mehta was born april twenty ninth nineteen thirty eight in queens new york bernie's father ralph ran a sporting goods store for most of his childhood but in the nineteen fifties the store went out of business leaving the family in dire straits this failure burned itself often bernie's mind he did not under any circumstance one to ever fail his family in such a way he would do whatever it took to avoid the pangs of unstable economic security and would cultivate a life that made failure impossible it was this obsessive quest for stability that instigated his relentless pursuit of wealth but it was also why he fell in love at such a young age at sixteen bernie met thirteen year old ruth alpern he was a son kissed boy scouts and lifeguard. She a bubbly low rents goldie hawn. They married five years later in one thousand nine hundred eighty nine when he was at hofstra and she was at queens college college almost immediately made off turned his attention toward achieving the type of success that would place him among the american economic elite a few you weeks off to the wedding while still a college senior. He filed the papers to open bernard madoff. Investment securities aka b. l. m._i._s. like most twentysomethings who start their own business made off relied on friends and family to get off the ground. Luckily for him made offs new father-in-law soul alpine then had his own accounting firm and began referring his clients friends and family members tomato lf alpin even gave made off a desk in his office somewhat ironically made of s- first and most important goal was to gain and build the trust of his clients. It came naturally to him. Even at such a young age he was charismatic driven outgoing and dedicated to making everyone around him as rich as possible. Unfortunately it was this very penchant for trust that would ultimately push him to betray the tens of thousands of people that relied on dan made off set about investing with a strategy called riskless arbitrage which involve buying stock at one price while having already locked in a sale of that same stock at a higher price he was able to buy and sell the same stock simaltaneously thanks to the fact that at the the time most major cities at that own stock market according to financial journalists diana henry kes- it's a rule in investment investment advising to only recommend suitable investments suitability is determined by an investor's willingness and ability personal circumstances stances to take on a certain level of risk. This rule is legally enforced by government regulatory agencies like the securities and exchange commission in the early sixties made off ignored the practice of suitability and put his clients investments into risky speculative new the issue stock whether or not they'd be able to handle that amount of risk made of knew this was wrong and knew it was illegal. He did it anyway. His disregard netted made off securities almost thirty five thousand dollars in cash by nine thousand nine hundred sixty two after just over two two years in business. That's a little over a quarter million dollars today but in may nineteen sixty two the market crashed and just like that almost all of made offs clients suffered serious losses this put bunny at a crossroads offs roads that he would face several times in his life a junction between his pride and the truth but as it did time and again made off some bishen and persuasive arrogance knew that if he wanted to reach his goals admitting mixing failure was not an option so he took the cash he had on hand and bought back his client stocks at the price. They invested effectively actively erasing the losses because he was trading in the little known little regulated o._t._c. market. None of the clients were any the wiser sir they still had their money and kept their investments and good faith in beni made of whether he knew it's not made was laying <music> out the groundwork for what social psychologist maria kondakova identifies as the eight steps of the successful con. The first of these steps is finding a victim made of quickly realized that as long as his clients got their money back. They weren't liable to ask too many questions. The pursuit of money left many to be easily manipulated but this manipulation would have to wait as bernie's quick fix gave rise to a secondary problem while he had erased his clients losses thereby maintaining that trust he done it at the expense of all his money you there was no way for him to continue his business and save face except there once bernie had married rich and with that came privilege he leveraged his close relationship with his father-in-law saul alpern to secure a loan to the tune shuna thirty thousand dollars according to medoff alpern loaned him the money and made off repaid him before the end of nineteen sixty four at this this point it seems that it just twenty six years old bernie madoff had perfected his ability to gain people's trust he'd broken the law deceived left his clients taking advantage of a family member and come out all the richer despite escaping this early scare made of still oh felt as though he had a long road ahead of him because he dealt in small lamarcus with smaller clients the who's who of wall street still gave him the cold shoulder made of himself admitted to journalists steve fishman that this treatment infuriated him as it only seemed to remind him that he was an outcast cost. Whatever life was like among the bigwigs of wall street bernie wanted it and he would do whatever it took to get there after his father-in-law bailed him out of a criminal stock trading failure in nineteen sixty two it appears benny made when legitimate we say appears because it's unclear exactly when made offs ponzi scheme began both the f._b._i. And his associate frank de pasquali junior believed believe that the fraud started by the late nineteen seventies however no one has definitively proven this accusation so for this time period we we have to take the standby of innocent until proven guilty but even if he wasn't engaging in crime outright he spent the next decade setting the stage age for the greatest financial fraud in history through the nineteen sixties and seventies bernard l. made off investment securities grew into robust but still small broker dealer business engaging an actual legitimate market making and proprietary trading each of these was a separate legal arm within the same company b. L. m._i._s. was soon considered a major market maker in o._t. Stocks thanks and then on the new york stock exchange according to fraud magazine made offs firm with sometimes responsible for a whopping ten percent of stock volume traded in a single day but it wasn't as if ten percent of investors. We're working directly with madoff. He engaged in payment for order flow. This is a somewhat controversial practice where a small brokerage firm directs their clients orders to third party to execute the trade often without the client's knowledge the third party in this case made off then paid the smaller brokerage firm a fee for directing business to for them the standard fee being a penny per share this allowed b. l. m._i._s. to execute lodge orders on the stock market and to quickly expand this only accelerated with the arrival of pizza made off bernie's little brother off after joining the firm in june nineteen sixty-nine pizza made off helped create groundbreaking computer trading systems instrumental to the firm success made native securities was always at the forefront of technological innovation or more streets and that's part of how bernie's ponzi scheme was able to thrive mm-hmm according to social psychologist maria connor cova cons thrive in terms of transition and fast change when new things are happening and the old ways of looking at the world no longer suffice and in the advent of the computer age the made offs were right in the middle of perhaps the biggest cultural transition the world has ever seen wall street's brand new computer systems were right for deceit abuse and and misunderstanding but at first they actually bolstered the mehta family's reputation b. l. m._i._s. systems was soon licensed to other marketmakers and financial companies including nasdaq throughout their careers. The medoff's remained at the forefront of the push for automated trading combining these technologies with made of innovative trading styles erupted the amounts of order flow from made of business on the new york stock exchange financial gurus banks business owners and investors alike all started to turn their heads and look seriously at bernie made off he finally had the attention of wall street's upper-crust and he thrived as he socialized at country clubs and fancy restaurants strongts madoff was just breaching his forties and he had already cultivated a fortune and an ever improving reputation which brings up an incredibly perplexing and troubling question if made off had already achieved this great success then and why would he risk it on such a massive and intentional fraud why threaten the economic stability of thousands of people what could have possibly caused the man who seemingly achieved the american dream to commit one of the century's biggest crimes. It is terrifying defying question one that eats at the fibers of our humanity and forces us to reassess understanding of power. We'll try dissect this question and the intriguing circumstances behind the beginning of medoff's ponzi scheme after this now back to the story the unusual and seemingly innovative tactics that bernie madoff started to employ in the late nineteen sixties and him a sterling reputation on wall street. This had inadvertently achieved the second step of a successful con building report by associating with the elite made off had built himself a wide ranging network of wealthy individuals primed to become victims but more immediately it helped him to unreal in his full wealthiest direct investors dubbed the big four by many including made himself these men knowingly or unknowingly unknowingly enabled made off to transform into the corrupt powerhouse he became the first of the four was jeffrey. Pick our pick. Our was a lawyer and tax accountant with an ivy league education and a pension for aggressive investment. He was also michael. Be ennis's brother-in-law foreign law alongside cower there was called shapiro the founder of kay windsor inc one of the biggest women's clothing manufacturers in the country of the time after meeting through a mutual friend shapiro was attracted to made of civility to execute arbitrage trades in mere days instead of weeks this third there was norman levy a real estate tycoon who met made of through soul al pens accounting firm the last of the big four and perhaps the most influential to the ponzi scheme was stanley chase a knitwear millionaire chase eventually essentially set up nearly fifty different made off accounts starting with his own investments and trusts for family members then in nineteen seventy he established the lambeth fund officially the first of many made of feeder funds similar to a shell corporation the feeder the funds were basically made up entities to hide bernie madoff lambeth fund investors told that stanley chase would manage their assets. Let's providing annual returns however chase merely handed the money to bernie madoff and collected his percentage of fees skimmed off returns investors in lambeth fund as well as in chases later popham and bright and funds had no clue they were investing with medoff even if made of his investing legitimately in the nineteen seventies stanley chase was really in their clients with ally whether or not it's it's the big four knew about the ponzi scheme is a point of hot contention. Many analysts believe that there was no possible way the foreign investors would not have known something was happening but whether or not they actively took a role in pushing medoff's company to commit financial fraud remains up in the air what they did for sure was start made off rolling down a hill of riches and before they knew it his dealings and quest for wealth would become an unstoppable unstoppable avalanche they also solidified made offs place among some of the wealthiest men in the country as such the demands perform mm was greater than ever mistakes and poor investment decisions were not tolerated and if made off wanted to keep his status he damn well you better give the best returns money can buy but dealing with larger and larger accounts did little to hamper made of output who continued to make money for his clients and attract more and more attention when made of father-in-law soul alpern retired in nineteen nineteen seventy four to accountants named frank avellino and michael took over the firm's accounting and wanted in on whatever bernie made was doing to earn so much money according to be n._s. Made of promise them a whopping twenty percent return on their investments and was happy to take their clients. It's money too as long as it was. Kept hush hush like stanley chase avellino m._b._n._a. Soon had several clients who thought they were investing with them but we're actually investing with made off. The two accountants promised our investors are rate of anywhere from thirteen point five to twenty percent. They kept the remaining three to five percent of made offs returns for themselves. Neither avellino be n._s. Was registered as a stockbroker or investment investment advisor so they called the money they took from their clients loans to cover up the illegal scheme with his growing growing pool of investors and successful broker dealer firm made of star only continue to rise by nineteen seventy-nine. A forty-one-year-old made off became a member of the national association of securities dealers or the n._a._s._d. Committee that worked to link all the different regional stock exchanges electronically the cincinnati stock exchange which was notable for only trading electronically. It was official by the nineteen eighties. Bernie bernie madoff was a major player in the stock market with the success perks including a montauk beach house in nineteen nineteen seventy-nine a london office in one thousand nine hundred eighty three and a flashing new daily commute via cessna seaplane in one thousand nine hundred eighty five made off sperm firm had a net worth of over eighteen million dollars more than triple what he had just two years prior taking advantage of the growth made of paint eight himself six million dollars over the course of nineteen eighty five according to a nineteen eighty-six issue of financial world magazine his budding reputation and and taste for expensive purchases also helped him achieve step three and four of maria conaco vers guidelines for a successful con sets. That's up an enviable situation and that your victims know how they could be a parts of it. The house the plane the fancy offices made off never kept these riches a secret and it allowed the public to see his success firsthand but he dangled these items especially as an advertisement assistant. Here are the riches that can be yours. If only you invest with bernie madoff but the cultivation of his reputation did not stop with displays of wealth in nineteen eighty-five made off was elected to the n._a._s._d.'s board of governors and served four consecutive terms as a former n._a._s._d. Committee member told p._b._s. Bernie strategy was to get actively involved in all aspects of the industry he had a much bigger presence than the size of his firm would naturally warrant this was another important step in setting up his on a tactic fellow con artists fred damara era termed papering i e laying paper trail of legitimacy papering helps a con artists become familiar to their victim before the con- begins and plants the seeds of trust. It's often done through creating fake or real connection to a legitimate institution such as a college or charity or inmate offs case the s._e._c. and the n._a._s._d. Papering can include referrals from other seemingly trustworthy worth individuals like the friends family and investment managers who referred many of medoff's victims to him. According to maria kondakova papering papering can be as simple as exchanging hallows with a stranger on the street or frequenting the same coffee shop conaco ver- notes that seeing someone even once makes us more likely to agree to help them or talk to them later on continuing to build up local familiarity and legitimacy in nineteen eighty seven bernard l. made off investment securities moved into the eighteenth and nineteenth floor of manhattan's lipstick building named aimed such for its architecture not as residence. It was a classy place worthy of affirm boasting five billion dollars in accounts that june june mark medoff bernie's elder son got his brokerage license to work for the firm full-time and stock prices had been on the up and up for months. It's everything was coming up roses until october nineteenth nineteen eighty-seven aka black monday with no clear cause the stock market crashed twenty two percent in a single day putting wall street in in a panic. Everyone was losing millions. If not billions of dollars however with their top notch futuristic computer systems made of securities not only continued to execute trades at high volume it made money at least it made money the according to mike angler minneapolis bay stockbroker who'd been bringing investors tomatoes since the early seventies wall street regulators also so praised made of securities and pizza medoff for their money saving technological innovation but behind the scenes it was more complicated complicated. The nineteen eighty-seven crash rocked investors confidence and they began withdrawing cash however made of claimed he didn't have the money for them to withdraw his complex investing schemes had left his hands and his money tied up made off himself alluded to an hi dea that his biggest clients had made long-term investment deals telling reporter diana henrik has that in the late nineteen eighty s he was hung out to dry hi this cash bind put on the pressure to deliver made off who deeply cared his reputation and the trust he had spent over twenty ninety years cultivating felt an immense pressure to avoid failure at all cost once again made off was placed between the pulling alling fibers of pride and truth it was an internal war that would decide the fate of thousands as made of true to form chose pride ride on small if he couldn't pay outs his investors everything he built over. Almost three decades was worthless. His catholic crafted reputation would go down the drain just as fast as the market had but he'd got an ounce of trouble like this before and just like in nineteen in sixty two made off realized that quick loan and a quick lie would solve all of his troubles this time he owed with more money than anyone could reasonably ask their father-in-law but this time he had access to other accounts he could borrow or a little here a little there and put it back later like the old idiom he'd rob peter to pay paul and no one would be the wiser if the ponzi scheme hadn't started by now it was about to and coming up. We'll look at how bernie made of kept the scheme under wraps for decades and the people who helped him get away with it now back to the story <music> from crackly phone north carolina an elderly but lucid bernie madoff told journalists steve fishman. I just allowed myself have to be talked into something and that's my fault. I thought i could extricate myself. After a period of time this cryptic statement that shrouded the origins origins of the world's greatest financial fraud was echoed in an answer made off gave diana henrikus when it's holter that he couldn't remember when he officially decided to commit fraud these statements not only open up the possibility that made off was not the sole architect of the ponzi scheme but also shine the light on the chilling reality that he felt little to no remorse for his part in ruining so many people's lives and he almost talks about it as though it was something that just happened as though it were inevitable and completely out of his control we can glean mm from these words that made off did not think much of when he started the ponzi scheme but it seems likely he did so in response to the nineteen eighty seven crash. This is supported by the criminal charges brought against him by the u._s. District attorney's in the southern district of new york which say he was operating the scam by at at least the one thousand nine hundred eighty s according to those same charges made of promise the people he defrauded that he'd invest in safe blue chip stocks folks from the standard and poor's one hundred index for reference the s._n._p. One hundred is the one hundred most popular and profitable stocks full of well-known companies like mcdonald's wells fargo johnson and johnson and goldman sachs made off was essentially promising investments in stocks that were historically good bets good enough that he guaranteed consistent returns of around ten percent sent annually regardless of what happened to the market that should have been an immediate red flag but here he played on his reputation social psychologists john french and bertram raven have theorized that there are five basis faces from which we derive power from the ability to reward someone the ability to punish them being a position of authority having obvious expertise and associating with someone desirable by the early nineteen nineties it appears made off had all five leave. He was on the n._a._s._d. Board of governors giving him authority and he appeared to be a highly successful financial wizard with a booming in business and a savant understanding of the market through his feta funds. They were outside firms made up of individual accounts that funneled their money into tomatoes master fund made off with meeting the rich and influential. He gained power by association. What raven and french called referenced is power. This power only grew as bernie and ruth became active not only on the ski slopes from aspen and the beaches of south florida butts in new york's dogs jewish philanthropy circles in essence. It was risky to question bernie madoff as confusing ordeal has his investment scheme may have seemed thus allowing made of to essentially do whatever he wanted. What he did was simply deposit his investors money into the bank account as any of the investors who trusted him could easily do for themselves then the cover-up began. Uh what differentiated made of scam from a typical ponzi is that he didn't give his early top level investors their returns in cash but but instead sent them fake account statements with fake trading records in the mail. This was an ingenious move because thanks thanks to the legitimate stock trading business. He was hiding behind made off had ample access to real information about stock performance. Since the statements were a delayed by the mail he could make trades that appeared to be genius predictions when really he was just picking the stocks that had performed formed dwell in hindsight by revealing these fake trades made was taking steps five in konic over successful con showing off off the prophets made of was able to give his clients a taste for their riches without actually giving them any money this made his clients believe believe they had a small taste of everything they were promised therefore they bought in and convince their friends to buy in what's more as the skiing grew. Many of his investors never even saw these fake account statements as investors of funds made up of funds they receive a statement statement from the manager who had invested with madoff essentially secondhand news the variety of feta funds made it even easier for bernie madoff to both keep his scheme in the dock and recruit new investors then in one thousand nine hundred ninety bernie madoff was named a non-executive nasdaq nasdaq chairman. The legitimate arm of his firm was bringing in around a hundred million dollars in annual profits in the early ninety s and garnering wondering impressive bonuses for the one hundred twenty or employee's on top of all this made off second son andrew had recently joined made of securities as a broker reinforcing the image as a family business but it was a family divided while bernie and his his brother peter were running the ponzi scheme bernie's sons mark and andrew and peter's daughter shana who joined in nineteen ninety five as a compliance attorney claimed they had no idea that parents were criminals and never faced criminal charges still the machine rolled rolled along regardless of their participation. That's the tricky thing about ponzi scheme. It is virtually impossible to close the loop it. It has to grow no matter the cost. This was especially prudent. If a client like stanley chase called chase would tell bernie made offs right hand con on man frank deepest golly that his new client was looking forward to the sixteen percent return. They were promised by the end of the month deeper scully was point point of contact for investors and he didn't just tell lies he wrote them deeper scali created fake account statements and falsified alleges blotters clearinghouse forms and trade confirmations but it was a net bongino deep gullies former babysitter and the woman that got him a job with madoff that would handle a client like chase firsthand she would analyze the market days later and choose an appropriate stock to match is the sixteen percent return they had promised chase. This was the thing about analyzing the market after the fact if bernie madoff decided. Did you get ten percent return then. That's what you'd get. Stop market be damned then it was up to daniel bonaventure b. L. m._i._s. is director of operations to complete the forgery. Bun venture was an accountant by trade the forger by expertise according to his criminal charges he once led made off to the window on the seventeenth floor where he had made of hold up his fate clearinghouse report next to a real one both men remarked on how great the forgery was and then the forged document was off to stanley chase to show his clients proof that his money was in great hands with the well-respected made off however accustomed chase one of the firms most important clients might do something in response to the return he'd received. He called on yano assuring her. There must be be a mix up. He had been promised an eighteen percent return. Not a sixteen percent one bongino would love of course mr chase. I i must have sent you the wrong account. Then it was back to the markets matching the correct stock purchase on the correct date to yield and eighteen percent return. This was the type of control made off had he could literally decide who made want at any time and it allowed him to ask ask for more and more money from his trusting clients. This was step six in the roads. Were successful. Con always ask for more step. Seven take the money made of took as much as he wanted. He was essentially running. An illegal illegal bank account managed meticulously by joanne creepy who assured all activity went under the radar. The final step type of maria kournikova's successful con step eight is to run made off never ran but he certainly has an efficient method of hiding even so the system was bound to leave some sort of trail enough of a trail that to computer programmers who worked for made off jerome ohara and george perez quickly caught on when they found themselves coding coding s._e._c. rounds they stormed into made of pristine sleek office and demanded to know what was going on made off did not flinch flinch he turned to debate scali and told him to explain this situation and to make sure the two men understood that if they stayed on he would make it very much with their troubles. The money was too good. O'hara and perez were in writing code that that made the scam faster smoother and much much bigger. All made of conspirators had two things in common you they spent most if not all of their careers working at be l. m._i._s. and they personally committed tax evasion and as the nineties he's rolled on. They all had one more thing in common. They were getting rich the rich they got the bigger. The machine grew through until as an incident with the s._e._c. In nineteen ninety-two showed it was nearly unstoppable for nearly alien decade from nineteen eighty three to nineteen ninety-two avellino ambi n._s. Had dropped all pretense of accounting and move their entire business is to investment management which was really just funneling money to made off that is until one of their clients a california investment advisor <hes> decided to spread the wealth and began publicizing their fund to clients on his own. This went directly against avellino ambien as directive it for made of to keep the investment advisory under wraps. All three men were horrified avellino in vienna's of losing their money machine and made off of being caught red-handed these fears manifested when in june of nineteen ninety-two the s._e._c. received seved tip from two diligent investors who had looked into the avellino and bananas king author account and found that one the promised returns up to twenty percents seemed excessive for an investment billed as no risk and to the fund was not taking new investors but only allowing friends ends and family in on the deal by july avellino. M._b._n._a.'s were being interrogated by the s._e._c. on suspicion of running a ponzi asking in their investigation the s._e._c. discovered over three thousand people had investments totalling over four hundred million dollars with avellino colombian as despite the fact that neither accountant was registered as an investment advisor worse avellino. M._b._n._a.'s couldn't turnover the money because they give it all to bernie madoff on july ninth nineteen nineteen ninety-two s._e._c. investigators showed up at the b. l. m._i._s. office. It was a small team on the case just three members of the broker dealer even forcement group to of who fresh out of college they were greeted by bernie madoff who spent the meeting slinging complex financial jargon that wins in one regulators here and out the other here made was taking a gamble on the regulators egos the s._e._c. regulations latest were mostly lawyers not stop traders so they wouldn't know the business as well as made off but being well educated people who likely consider themselves self smarter than average they'd be less likely to ask questions about made of complex schemes and instead boost their pride by pretending to understand standard. It was a tactic. He'd being perfecting his investors in fact mike huckabee n._s. Himself didn't understand what made if was doing with the money he later told p._b._s. It was bonds and stocks and blah. Blah blah blah blah reflecting on the visit one. One of the investigators said made was a pioneer in the industry. He really used you know technology to bring trading to the next level. When i walked walked out of there it was more along the lines of wow. This guy is a third market guy that does x. Percent of volume on the exchange. This is where i actually shirley learned about third market. I didn't even know the so-called term that that's what it was cold. Clearly the investigators were out of their depth the ins and outs of wall street tricky for any layman to understand and made off use that fact to fool his victims and the s._e._c. again and again and it helps that he had the paperwork to back it up as part of the investigation made of produce years of complicated the trading records across several accounts of course most of the documents had been forged by frank de pasquali that same week the s._e._c. regulators regulators left the lipstick building convinced of one thing made of securities was legitimate ben. He's gamble had paid off but the win came with a catch the s._e._c. still wanted to shut down avellino and bananas and and shutting the phone down meant returning. All of their clients investments made off with served with a court order to hand over a cool four hundred million dollars. Here's the kicker. Most of that. Money didn't exist. It was just numbers on paper like the rest of the ponzi. We don't know how much money made off had in liquid assets at this time but by his own account he certainly didn't have four hundred million dollars however he knew people who did he squeezed three of the big four investors call shapiro jeffrey pick our our and norman levy to increase their investments with him and they did so without question so in nineteen ninety-two to four hundred million dollars of stolen cash went back to the people who invested with made of avellino m._b._n._a.'s for all of five minutes in the fallout made of offer to open up accounts for the former avellino n._b._n. As investors directly he appeared sympathetic understanding standing they had lost a great investment opportunity but really he just wanted that four hundred million dollars back not only did made off escape gate the s._e._c. unscathed he came away with thousands of new direct investors <music> brimming with confidence made of expanded the ponzi scheme later that same year in one thousand nine hundred ninety two he invested in new i._b._m. Computers just for updating the fake accounts and leased out the seventeenth floor of the lipstick building with his main office on the eighteenth and nineteenth floors made off was literally committing fraud right underneath everyone's noses now sequested on the seventeenth floor depot scully o'hara and peres designed computer programs that would update the fake accounts with backdated trades create routine clearinghouse forms to match and most ostentatiously fake real time stock trades this stroke of criminal genius appear to be the same computer program program used by the legitimate traders on the upper floors where they could use the internet to buy or sell stock within a customer's account ohara could theoretically radically sit at his desk with a customer regulator to make a trade and receive real time confirmation messages from peres who would be working from a connected computer in a back room. They graduated from fake paperwork to performance art but for harry marco the polish. It was a different story. He didn't see art when he looked at medoff's investment strategy. He saw something much more more sinister. By nineteen ninety nine bernard l. made of securities and investments was getting a lot of attention and making an incredible l. amounts of money but success breeds competition and boston-based rampart investments wanted to compete after hearing about made right off the firm's partners task portfolio manager harry macropoulos with the reverse engineering of fund the would offer similarly higher returns with similarly low volatility in february two thousand monaco police got his hands made offs return records and red made of a strategy in about five minutes. It hit him like a break. The numbers he was looking at weren't right. They couldn't be right. This was fraud fraud on an absolutely unbelievable scale as a veteran of the army reserves and catholic school. Monaco police would not stan for rule breakers. He continued reading fifteen minutes later. He sold the truth not fraud a ponzi scheme a scandal that would impact thousands of people and hundreds. It's of millions of dollars within four hours. He had mathematically proven the crime but bernie madoff was so influential and well protected that it would take marco polo's almost nine years to bring him down <music>. Thanks for listening to con artists. We'll be back next week with part. Two of bernie madoff has harry markelle. Polish goes after mater and made off goes often million dollar yachts. We'll look at the tactics made off and his co conspirators what is used to fool the s._e._c. for another decade and the mere coincidence that finally brought him down. You can find more episodes of conscious as well as other podcast originals on spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts if you enjoyed the show the best way to help is to leave a five star review you and don't forget to follow us on facebook and instagram at podcast and twitter at podcast network. I'll see you next time. Con mattis was created by max. Cutler is a production of cutler media and as part of the podcast network it is produced by maxon ron cutler sound designed by ron shapiro grow with production assistance by pool malla additional production assistance maggie it maya and carleen landon. This episode of connaught was written by maggie maya. I'm steve martin.

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