It has been the public's perception that Madoff investors were all extremely wealthy and all belonged to exclusive clubs. This perception has been reinforced by the media and the powers that be. The truth is, with very few exceptions, such as Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Picower and Stanley Chais-most were average, small time investors. They did not belong to exclusive private clubs or any other fancy clubs. They lived an average American life; they worked hard, contributed to society and saved for their retirement years. But in the end that was not enough. No one, it turns out, could protect them from the worst financial criminal in history, Bernard L. Madoff. As a result, they were all thrown tragically into one club none of them ever expected to join: the "club" of victims. This is their story.
It is the first book of its kind about the Madoff Ponzi scheme, in which twenty nine Madoff investors band together to tell their story without an intermediary, directly to the public and in their own words. Baring private details and exposing the truth about who the real victims are, they don't hold back as to who really enabled the scheme to continue for forty years. The readers need to know what the authorities would rather keep from them, or else they are destined to become the next victims. The book's message is: this can happen to anyone.
The authors are men and women just like the average reader. They come from all walks of life - blue collar, white collar- from all parts of the country and at different life stages. These are working class families, ex-multi millionaires, professionals, artists and retirees. They come from Florida, Minnesota, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania, Texas and other states. They come from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. In short they are regular people, Americans who got sucked into a Ponzi scheme that even the federal government has yet to solve. They all have one thing in common: they were robbed of their life savings by the worst financial criminal in history,Bernard L. Madoff. It is time the public learns the truth.
This is a story of financial devastation, of lessons learned, of hope and rebirth. It has been more than a year since the fraud came to light and the survivors are now ready to share their experience and the hard learned lessons with the public. Though the financial disaster caused major transformations in their lives, transformations which are still ongoing, their spirit has not been broken. As one of the authors in this book summed up eloquently, "There will always be meaningful work to be done, more fun to be had and lots more people to love". And in the end, it is the message of hope the authors wish to convey.
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By Helen Davis Chaitman
This book is a must-read for Americans who mourn what America used to be. We are scandalized by politicians who pay for sex. Yet we tolerate the fact that our politicians sell their votes to the highest bidders. The contributors to this book understand the seriousness of this state of affairs.
These are honest Americans, of all walks of life, who worked hard, saved their money, and expected to retire in peace. Some were rich; some were poor. Some were young; some were old. These are people who only came together because America is broken.
It is easy to blame Madoff. But the Madoffs of the world are to be expected. That is why taxpayer dollars were used to fund the SEC. That is why taxpayer dollars were used to fund Congress which, in 1970 (before America was broken), enacted the Securities Investor Protection Act ("SIPA"), which created SIPC to establish a fund to insure victims of a broker's dishonesty.
We all know the story:
The SEC personnel accepted taxpayer-paid salaries and, instead of policing the securities industry, they sat at their computers watching pornographic movies until they put in enough time to earn themselves high-paying jobs on Wall Street.
FINRA, which was supposed to regulate the securities industry, became the protectors and perpetuators of corporate corruption.
SIPC, which was supposed to insure investors decided, instead, to provide free SIPC insurance to its members (a mere $150/year/firm) and to persecute investors whose funds were stolen by dishonest brokers.
Irving Picard, the SIPC trustee, who has a fiduciary duty to the investors, decided to sell his soul to SIPC for $1.4 million/week.
In sum, Madoff's victims were swindled by the system and the government. But the wonderful thing about this book is that its 29 contributors are not bitter. You cannot help but love these people when you read their stories. To take just a few:
“SM” grew up in a 1,200 square foot house surrounded by tomato fields. She went barefoot and never worried about clothes matching. She invested her total life savings -- $20,000 – in Madoff in 1992. It wasn’t a huge amount of money in 2008 but it was enough to keep her comfortable in her old age. She has lost her financial security but she is still kind, loving and so much more.
Mary Thomajan was looking forward to retirement in Santa Fe, focusing on funding a Center for Community and Courageous Change. She lost everything. But she learned that "none of the stuff was me-not my money, nor my home, nor my clothes, my jaguar, my sassy red hair, my identity." The truth she came to recognize is that "we don't own anything...We are just tenants here, little columns of energy." But she has learned from a wise teacher in India who answered the question: “What does a man have when he has lost everything?” The answer was “Freedom.”
You will love and admire Sarah Fisk. When she learned that friends of hers had lost money in Madoff, she felt sympathetic but superior – as if they must have done something wrong to have been so victimized. Then she learned that the fund in which she had put her life savings had invested all the money in Madoff. And she learned that the reaction of the press of finding fault with the victims is a totally human, but unfortunate reaction of people who would rather blame the victims than accept their own vulnerability.
You will weep with admiration for Emma De Vita, a woman born at the time of the Great Depression, from a working class background, who has turned her tragedy into political activism.
What all of these people have in common is that they have determined to try to fix America. For this we should all be very grateful because we need an awful lot of fixing.
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Book Description The Doukathsan Press, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110982250932
Book Description The Doukathsan Press. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0982250932 . Bookseller Inventory # LMI6995MGHMLV053117O0140P