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For Madoff victims, scars are left 10 years later: NPR




Steve Heimoff had never heard of Bernie Madoff, but he lost his $ 2 million witch egg to the Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

Greetings from Steve Heimoff


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Greetings by Steve Heimoff

Steve Heimoff had never heard of Bernie Madoff, but he lost his $ 2 million nest egg to Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

Courtesy of Steve Heimoff

Steve Heimoff remembers coming home from a restaurant on December 10, 2008 to find an email from a cousin with the words "Bad News" in the subject line.

The $ 2 million pension he had spoken on was suddenly eradicated, as there were a lot of his family's savings, the loss of the multibillion-dollar Bernie Madoff scam that dominates the headlines.

Far spying like a Wall Street genius that racked up big gains no matter how the economy did, Madoff had just been arrested, confessing to federal authorities that his investment company was a fraud.

Instead of trading shares with customers' money, Madoff had for many years operated a huge Ponzi scheme, and paid old investors with money he received from new ones.

In late 2008, with the free fall economy, Madoff could no longer attract new money and the scheme collapsed. Hundreds of investors, including many charities, were deleted.

"I just stopped going to restaurants, I stopped buying clothes," recalls Heimoff. "I stopped going on vacation, I stopped going to movies."

Cutting Expenses, Considering Suicide

Today, a Department of Justice has taken to recover about $ 13 billion, which is most of the money Madoff's investors put into their funds. The manager did so in part by selling the Madoff family's personal belongings, including their home in Hamptons, Manhattan and France, and a 55-foot yacht called Bull.

But for investors like Heimoff, the Madoff scandal has left permanent scars.

To Heimoff was the revelation that he was among the victims, confusing first. He had never heard of Madoff. He and his family had invested their money with Stanley Chais, a California fund manager known for dazzling returns.

"We were told that it was extremely credible," recalls Heimoff. "It was described to us as a" risk-free arbitrage "and that was all we knew."

But as he soon wanted to learn, Chais actually operated several feeder funds that invested their money with Madoff, and when Madoff's company collapsed, they did too.

By 62, Heimoff was suddenly forced to refinance his villa in Oakland, California, and severely cut expenses. He thought suicide. Although he was able to scrape off the money he had left, Heimoff worried about the future.

"My challenge didn't come together now," says Heimoff, a wine writer and critic. "My fear grew old and abominable. I do not have children, and all my adult life, part of my motive for doing everything, was a fear of being old and poor in America. This country. "

Turn off retirement for 10 years

The Madoff scandal has left a long path of wrecks that included suicide, lost homes and bankruptcies.

Madoff himself serves a 150-year prison sentence at Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina. Six people working at his company now serve time, including his brother, Peter. Madoff's oldest son, Mark, a longtime broker at his father's firm, hanged in his Manhattan apartment in 2010, on the second anniversary of his father's arrest. Like others in the family, he had claimed that he knew about the fraud, something he refused.

Others who were hit by the scandal have done their best to continue.

58 years, Michael De Vita was preparing to retire when he learned that the secondary document he had spoken on was gone. Then his older mother was. Instead, he was forced to return to work for 10 years, and only retired in August.

Michael De Vita and his mother Emma De Vita lost much of the pension savings by investing with Bernie Madoff.

Greetings from Michael De Vita


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Greetings by Michael De Vita

Michael De Vita and his mother, Emma De Vita, lost much of their pension savings by investing with Bernie Madoff.

Courtesy by Michael De Vita

De Vita will receive 60 to 70 percent of the money he invested with Madoff from the court-appointed manager, but it applies only to the principal. He won't get any of the wonderful returns that would seem to build up over the years, meaning his retirement income will be less than a third of what he expected.

Nor will he receive much of the federal and state taxes he paid on his illusory Madoff earnings over the years.

In a way, he's lucky: When their fake returns were built up over the years, many Madoff clients drew money from their accounts, to pay for retirement or college education, for example. If their withdrawals exceed the money they have deposited over the years, they have been smeared with lawsuits that attempt to complain the money they received. It has been a painful, bitter experience for them.

The Vita was spared it because he never took much money out of his funds.

As the years have passed, De Vita has done its best to enter into something of an investor lawyer.

As the years have passed, De Vita has done the best in his situation, making himself something of an investor tale. He wrote a book about his experience and learned a college course about the scandal. He has also been active in an organization of Madoff victims and has lobbied government and federal officials on their behalf.

The Ponzi scheme lives on

Despite promises made by lawmakers to help, efforts to help Madoff victims have often led nowhere, he says.

"There were many feelings back at the time that people who were invested with Madoff quote got what they deserved. That return was too good to be true, and so you took advantage of the system and you know what, haha, we get, says De Vita.

Although it may have been true with some of the investors, many more like him, ordinary people who trusted Madoff with pension funds and paid a terrible price.

In Madoffs There has been some action taken to prevent another scandal, such as the establishment of a Securities and Exchange Commission program to protect whistleblowers from financial firms, De Vita notes.

But Ponzi schemes have continued, albeit in much less degree than Madoffs.

"What happened to us should not have happened," he says. "Can it happen again? I am positive that it will happen again. "



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