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On This Day: Architect of Largest Ponzi Scheme, Bernard Madoff Began 150-year Sentence

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Bernie Madoff is known as the American financier who executed the largest Ponzi scheme in history, defrauding thousands of investors over a period of about 17 years. 

On this day in history (2009), disgraced financier Bernard Madoff arrived at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina to begin serving a 150-year sentence for his massive Ponzi scheme.

Bernard Lawrence “Bernie” Madoff was an American financier who executed the largest Ponzi scheme in history, defrauding thousands of investors out of tens of billions of dollars over the course of at least 17 years, and possibly longer. He was also a pioneer in electronic trading and chairman of the Nasdaq in the early 1990s.

Despite claiming to generate large, steady returns through an investing strategy called split-strike conversion, which is an actual trading strategy, Madoff simply deposited client funds into a single bank account that he used to pay existing clients who wanted to cash out. He funded redemptions by attracting new investors and their capital, but was unable to maintain the fraud when the market turned sharply lower in late 2008. He confessed to his sons—who worked at his firm but, he claims, were not aware of the scheme, on Dec. 10, 2008. They turned him in to the authorities the next day. The fund’s last statements indicated it had $64.8 billion in client assets.

In 2009, at age 71, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felony counts, including securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, perjury, and money laundering. Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $170 million in assets.

Madoff died at the age of 82 in Federal Medical Center, Butner, a federal prison for inmates with special health needs. He had two sons, Mark and Andrew. Both of his sons predeceased him. Mark, by suicide, in 2010, and Andrew, from lymphoma, in 2014.

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Created by Okey Obiabunmo

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