How do you make $50 billion disappear (other than by giving it to AIG)? Well, longtime investment manager Bernard Madoff has done just that. And now heâ€™s under arrest.
Madoff, the former chairman on the NASDAQ, is accused of running a Ponzi scheme with his hedge fund that has cost investors as much as $50 billion in losses. This makes the case one of the largest incidents of fraud in American history.
Apparently, his firm generated very consistent, very high returns for many years in a row. Thatâ€™s easy to do with a Ponzi scheme. Until, of course, you run out of suckers and the money dries up. If the allegations are true, I hope Madoff goes away for a long time. But, as always, this level of fraud is fueled not just by the huckster but by those who buy into the idea that thereâ€™s an easy way to make a buck. If the recent economic crisis has proven anything, itâ€™s that get-rich-quick schemes never work.