So the largest financial swindle in history ended Monday. The judge proclaimed, “Bernard L. Madoff shall be and hereby is sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 150 years.”
Bernie Madoff is the perpetrator of a $65 billion Ponzi scheme that spanned several decades and took thousands of victims. The 150-year sentence is essentially a life sentence as the 71-year-old Madoff is very unlikely to outlive his sentence.
A Ponzi scheme is where someone claims to own a company or “know” someone that has access to investments that have very good returns and are “guaranteed.” This person actually doesn’t invest the money from “clients” (victims), but uses new investors’ money to pay returns to older investors. This is how he gains trust from the investors by paying regular dividends. This makes it seem legitimate. But obviously it’s a scam from the beginning.
Madoff is believed to have started his elaborate scam in the 1980s, but his luck and his money ran out last December when too many investors wanted to cash out.
Some notable Madoff victims include actor Kevin Bacon, Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Director Steven Spielberg’s charity, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, and actor John Malkovich.