The Bernard Madoff Story: The Biggest Fraud in History

Bernard Madoff, a former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market, a well-known and respected Wall Street Trader, and the founder of the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, was arrested by Federal Marshalls in his Manhattan apartment on Thursday, December 11, 2008 on the charges of fraud in his role in the running of a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme.

The Fraud

A Ponzi scheme is conducted much like a pyramid scheme. High returns are promised on investments and early investors are paid these high returns by being given money invested by later investors. No new money is actually made by investing. Losses from this particular Ponzi scheme are estimated at $50 billion dollars.

Bernard Madoff, age 70, has admitted to running the scheme from his own firm and has been officially charged with a single count securities fraud. If convicted he faces up to twenty years in prison and a fine of $5 million dollars. He posted his $10 million dollar bail by using his apartment as collateral.

On the day before his arrest, Madoff told the senior employees of his firm that "it's all just one big lie," and that it was "basically a giant ponzi scheme."

Effects On The Market

Officials are calling this scheme the biggest fraud in history and believe Madoff has been conducting it for the past three years, since 2005. His employees said he kept records and files of investments under lock and key and was always wary about sharing too much information about the inner workings of the company. Investors worldwide are worried about how this fraud will affect confidence in the market as people are already pulling money from hedge funds due to the current economic crisis. Many are worried that this fraud could further encourage investors to withdraw their money.

"This is a major blow to confidence that is already shattered -- anyone on the fence will probably try to take their money out," said Doug Kass, president of hedge fund Seabreeze Partners Management.

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