Dec. 11th marked the three-year anniversary of the Bernard Madoff debacle. The mastermind behind the biggest Ponzi scheme – $65 billion – in U.S. history spent the day in North Carolina, in a medium-security prison, where he is serving a 150-year prison sentence. But for the investors who lost their money to Madoff, the day is constant reminder of financial futures permanently destroyed and their lives forever altered.
The list of investors who became a victim to Madoff runs the gamut – from Hollywood actors to ordinary citizens. Fortunes were wiped out overnight, as were middle-class nest eggs and college savings. Many investors are still trying to get their money back.
As reported Dec. 11 by the New York Times, Madoff trustee Irving Picard has approved 2,425 claims as of Dec. 2 totaling almost $7.3 billion. But two-thirds of the 16,519 claims originally filed have been denied, either because claimants took out more cash from Madoff’s firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, than they paid in over the years or did not have an account directly with the firm, according to the article.
Some Madoff investors are like Alexandra Penney, a New York City photographer. Penney is relatively lucky. So far, she’s been able to keep her New York studio, which she feared she might have to let go after losing her life savings to Madoff. To date, she has been paid “a small fraction of my claims,” she said in the New York Times story.
“But I don’t think about Madoff at all, at all,” she said. “However, I have to think about the impact of what happened every day — whenever I stop to consider ‘Do I take a bus or walk?’ It is ever-present and it will always be.”