The crimes committed by financier Bernie Madoff, who died Wednesday, have faded from the headlines. But his Ponzi scheme, the largest in history, was one of the biggest financial stories of the last decade.
Madoff, who was 82, was once deemed a Wall Street wizard. The former Nasdaq stock market chairman was known for investments that gave his clients, who included celebrities and charities, large, unusually steady returns.
Here’s what else you need to know about Madoff and his scheme:
What did Bernie Madoff do?
It turned out that Madoff’s hefty returns were actually a Ponzi scheme, where the investments made by newer investors paid off Madoff’s earlier clients.
How did Madoff get caught?
The scheme began to unravel in the midst of the Great Recession. As investors flocked to withdraw their money in 2008, Madoff didn’t have the funds to fulfill the stream of requests. He eventually told his sons, Mark and Andrew, about his scam. They contacted federal authorities who arrested Madoff.
Who did Madoff’s Ponzi scheme affect?
While Madoff’s client list included Hollywood luminaries and financial funds, he also handled money for ordinary investors. His scam wiped out many people’s life savings and retirement plans, leading some to have to go back to work or move in with friends and family.
Was there a trial?
No. Madoff pleaded guilty in 2009, saying that he ran the Ponzi scheme by himself. He was sentenced to a 150-year prison term by Federal judge Denny Chin.