Last Updated 27 May 2020

A Ponzi scheme originated

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There are people who decide to put away their hard-earned money through investment. Unfortunately, there are also those who take advantage of people’s investments to defraud others and make money for themselves. Bernard Madoff proved to be part of the latter, as he had recently become infamous for securities fraud. Bernard Madoff was initially revered as hero in Wall Street. In 1960, he established Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities with the money he had earned while working as a lifeguard in Far Rockaway, Queens (Gandel).

He proved to be a critical player in Wall Street, as his firm provided the middle ground wherein buyers and sellers of stocks can meet. The firm also was responsible for the progress of Nasdaq, wherein Madoff was a former chairman. The New York Times reported that Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities had under its management over 24 funds, which was worth an estimated $17 billion in assets. The said funds were sold to rich investors, institutions and hedge funds (“Madoff”). At present, Madoff is considered the villain.

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On December 11, 2008, Madoff was arrested at his home in Manhattan on charges of what could possibly be the most extensive fraud in the history of Wall Street (Gandel). The 70 year-old former Nasdaq chairman defrauded his clients through a Ponzi scheme which was originally said to have been worth $50 million. Later on, the cost was estimated at $65 million. A Ponzi scheme originated as a form of a pyramid scheme named after Charles Ponzi, who tricked the citizens into a postage stamp investment scheme in 1920s (U. S. SEC).

However, the Ponzi scheme at present works rather differently. People now operate on a “rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul” scheme, wherein they take the money of new investors to pay what they owe to their old investors (U. S. SEC). This is exactly what Madoff did with his firm. In the 1990s, Madoff used his reputation in the finance industry to create an asset-management firm (Gandel). He utilized his social network to acquire money for his newly-established business. He would encourage people from the exclusive clubs wherein he and his relatives were included to invest in his firm.

It was said that he had found an investor in the Palm Beach Country Club who helped him find other investors (Gandel). Madoff was able to invite many people to invest in his firm through a guarantee of low payments but with high profits (Henriques and Kouwe 1). He managed the Fairfield Sentry fund, which was said to have $7. 3 billion in assets. Every year in its 15-year history, it was maintained that the firm paid over 11 percent interest (Henriques and Kouwe 1). Most of Madoff’s investors contributed to his funds through several feeder funds (Gandel). In turn, these funds were promoted by other companies.

The funds were associated with an investment management firm, which forwarded the money to Madoff. One of the funds which brought millions of dollars in Madoff’s possession was the Tremont Broad Market Fund (Gandel). It was in 2005 when what originally began as a legitimate business became a Ponzi scheme, as Madoff used the money of his new clients to settle the accounts of the earlier investors who wanted their cash back (Gandel). Despite the continued economic decline in 2008, Madoff insisted to his clients that there was a 5. 6% growth in his funds by the latter part of November that year.

This proved to be a false claim, as during the same period, the stocks of Standard & Poor’s 500 decreased by an average of 37. 7% (Gandel). For his fraudulent scheme to work, Madoff recruited people who had no previous training or experience to be part of his clerical staff (“Madoff”). He instructed these employees to produce false documents. It was these fraudulent papers which he provided to regulators. Madoff also knew that while his business was no longer running, he had to make it appear that his investment operation was still working. He did this by constantly transferring millions of dollars from one bank to another.

The bank transfers were also used to give the illusion that Madoff was actively making securities negotiations in Europe for his clients. In addition, he spent the funds of the firm for the personal use of relatives, associates and himself (“Madoff”). Madoff’s operation became increasingly questionable as it continued to give a consistently optimistic report about its performance despite the dire economic situation. In addition, a senior executive at Madoff’s firm also became suspicious when Madoff expressed his desire to give the annual bonuses of the employees two months earlier than intended (Henriques and Kouwe 1).

Days prior to that incident, Madoff mentioned to a different senior executive that he was having difficulty raising money to pay the investors $7 billion worth of withdrawals. When he was confronted by the senior executive, Madoff finally told the truth. His firm was actually bankrupt and it had been bankrupt for awhile. Madoff told his executives that while he planned to submit himself to the authorities, he first wished to give the remaining money to his family, friends and some employees (Henriques and Kouwe 2). He was not able to do as he planned, as he was soon arrested.

Madoff was charged with several federal offenses, including perjury, money laundering and securities fraud (“Madoff”). On March 12, he pleaded guilty to all 11 felony counts, which could earn him a total of 150 years in prison (“Madoff”). Madoff’s Ponzi scheme had a rather extensive scope. The consequences of his actions had negatively affected finance all over the world (“Madoff”). The scheme had caused problems with international institutions such as HSBC and BNP Paribas. The investors that lost in Madoff’s scam included prominent names in sports, entertainment and publishing.

His clients included Steven Spielberg, Eliot Spitzer, Elie Wiesel and Mortimer B. Zuckerman. Hedge fund manager R. Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet also lost $1. 4 billion to the scheme (“Madoff”). Due to the Madoff controversy, the U. S. SEC had been bombarded with criticism. The latest Ponzi scheme by Madoff showed the committee’s inability to look after investments and safeguard the investors (Hutchinson). Prior to the scandal, the U. S. SEC claimed that they did not detect anything questionable about Madoff’s business (Serwer). This would denote negligence on the part of the SEC.

If the SEC itself cannot help investors, how do investors help themselves to avoid becoming victims of such massive fraud? Financial experts have several suggestions on how securities fraud can be prevented. Both Hutchinson and Serwer agree that one must not invest in something he or she does not understand. If a person is presented with an investment offer, that individual must thoroughly investigate about the said offer. One must ask as many questions as needed, and until he or she has completely understood the process (Hutchinson).

If the person who made the offer cannot properly describe how he profits from the said investment, there is a possibility that the offer maybe dubious. If possible, try to get hold of the accounting ratio of the company. Ask a securities analyst to verify the numbers. Second, one must follow the three rules of investment. According to Hutchinson, these are: “diversify, buy over an extended period and research well what you intend to buy. ” Diversifying is very important; one must not invest all their money in one place. Lastly, experts are discouraging people from making investments in nameless enterprises (Serwer).

People must avoid making investment transactions with people who claim to have connections (Hutchinson). If one plans to make an investment, he or she should seek competent and experienced investment specialists (Hutchinson). The story of Bernard Madoff is an unusual one. From one of Wall Street’s most prominent personalities, he became one of the America’s most recognizable criminals. The case of Madoff offers a lesson for everyone. In times wherein people will take advantage of other people’s investment, one must take the necessary precautions to avoid becoming a victim.

Works Cited “Bernard L. Madoff. ” The New York Times. 12 March 2009. 26 March 2009 <http://topics. nytimes. com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/bernard_l_madoff/index. html>. Gandel, S. “Wall Street’s Latest Downfall: Madoff Charged with Fraud. ” Time. 12 Dec. 2008. Time Inc. 26 March 2009 <http://www. time. com/time/business/article/0,8599,1866154,00. html? iid=sphere-inline-sidebar>. Henriques, Diana B. , and Zachery Kouwe. “Prominent Trader Accused of Defrauding Clients. ” The New York Times. 11 Dec. 2008. 26 March 2009 <http://www. nytimes.

com/2008/12/12/business/12scheme. html? pagewanted=1&_r=2>. Hutchinson, Martin. “How to Avoid Madoff Mayhem. ” Money Morning Web Site. Money Map Press. 26 March 2009 <http://www. moneymorning. com/2008/12/17/bernard-madoff/>. Serwer, Andy. “Madoff investors burned by SEC, too. ” CNN. com. 15 Dec. 2008. Fortune Magazine. 26 March 2009 <http://money. cnn. com/2008/12/15/magazines/fortune/madoff. fortune/index. htm>. U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “‘Ponzi’ Schemes. ” SEC Web Site. 19 April 2001 <http://www. sec. gov/answers/ponzi. htm>.

A Ponzi scheme originated essay

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