Elie Wiesel called him a "God." His investors called him a "genius."
Bernard Lawrence "Bernie" Madoff (born April 29, 1938) is a former American businessman and former non-executive chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange who was convicted of operating a Ponzi scheme that has been called the largest investor fraud ever committed by a single person.
On March 12, 2009, Madoff pled guilty to an 11-count criminal complaint, admitting to defrauding thousands of investors. Federal prosecutors estimated client losses, which included fabricated gains, of almost $65 billion.
Madoff founded the Wall Street firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in 1960, and was its chairman until his arrest on December 11, 2008.
According to the original federal complaint, Madoff claimed his firm had "liabilities of approximately US$50 billion." Prosecutors increased their estimate of the size of the fraud from $50 billion to $64.8 billion, based on the amounts in the accounts of Madoff's 4,800 clients on November 30, 2008.
It is claimed that he confessed to his sons first on December 10, 2008 that the asset management arm of his firm was a giant Ponzi scheme — as he put it, "one big lie."
Including the innumerable people he swindled out of billions, at least two of his investors committed suicide as a result of losses they sustained due to Madoff's criminal activities.