Madoff's Victims Speak Out

Some of them have only their homes, while others have no remaining assets and no means to earn income, but all of the former clients of Bernard Madoff (at right) whose statements were made public by the government on Friday described in nightmarish terms their experiences since Madoff’s fraudulent investment empire crumbled.

Meantime, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled that the Ponzi schemer will have to stay in jail as he awaits sentencing in mid-June.


Some of the messages released today by prosecutors had senders’ names blacked out. Others were written by relatives on behalf of elderly or ailing victims, including an 87-year-old Alzheimer’s patient who lost her $500,000 life savings.

“That money was for her to live out the rest of her life in comfort,” a child of the Alzheimer’s patient wrote in a March 9 e-mail that had the name redacted. “She is very depressed and can’t understand why this happened to her.”

Until now, most attention has been given to celebrities, hedge funds and banks around the world that lost money in Madoff’s scam. Many of the victims revealed [Friday] cite relatively smaller losses that accounted for larger shares of wealth.

“I am not rich,” a 52-year-old self-employed woman in California wrote in a letter. “The entire amount I lost was nowhere near a million dollars, but I was proud I had saved it. I do not own a home to sell. I do not have anyone to support me in my old age.”

Many of the letters called on the government to make an extra effort to help victims.

Given the SEC’s failure, “it is certainly justice that everyone in the federal government do what he or she can to ameliorate this situation,” said Eugene Wolsk, 80, of Montauk, New York, who invested with Madoff for 21 years.

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