Madoff Victim List Names Housewives and Retirees, Along with Rich and Famous

Bernard Madoff’s client list has finally been revealed, and as The Wall Street Journal reports, the victims of his alleged Ponzi scheme went far beyond the ultra-wealthy.

Madoff was arrested on one count of securities fraud on December 11.  Madoff – once a chairman of the Nasdaq stock exchange – is the founder and primary owner of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. The firm is primarily known for its business in market-making, or serving as the middleman between buyers and sellers of shares. However, Madoff also oversaw an investment-advisory business that managed money for high-net-worth individuals, hedge funds and other institutions.

According to the FBI complaint against Madoff, that business was largely a Ponzi scheme.  The FBI said Madoff  “deceived investors by operating a securities business in which he traded and lost investor money, and then paid certain investors purported returns on investment with the principal received from other, different investors, which resulted in losses of approximately billions of dollars.” Madoff reportedly told employees that his fraud could cost investors as much as $50 billion.

As we reported earlier, Madoff’s alleged securities fraud has impacted a lot of wealthy investors.  They reportedly include Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman, New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and J. Ezra Merkin, the chairman of GMAC Financial Services, among others.   Several hedge funds,  including those managed by Tremont Capital Management and Fairfield Greenwich Advisors had invested heavily in Madoff’s funds. Several banks around the globe, including the Royal Bank of Scotland, France’s largest bank, BNP Paribas, Britain’s HSBC Holding PLC and Spain’s Santander have all lost billions. Several charities were also hit hard.

Yesterday, a list of Madoff’s clients was released as part of his firm’s bankruptcy.  According to the Wall Street Journal, more famous names turned up. They include baseball legend Sandy Koufax, actor John Malkovich and former Miss America Phyllis George.

But the Journal said the Madoff list included many everyday people, many of whom are just finding out that they are among the Ponzi scheme victims. In addition to  prominent individuals, the list also names housewives and retirees, a plumbers union and a high school as Madoff investors.

The list, however, may not be completely accurate. Several people on it -including Madoff’s attorney- told the Journal that they had never invested with Madoff.

According to the Wall Street Journal, many people on the list were appalled that it was made public. They were especially concerned because it included their addresses, as well as their names. Some have been deluged with media inquiries since the list came out, and others worry that so much information could make them targets of criminals.

One fund manager told the Journal that the list would likely attract attention from other investment advisors.  “You’ve got the names and addresses of a whole bunch of rich people who don’t demand much accountability,” he said.

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