Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi play: If it’s too good to be true, it isn’t true

Every time I think I’ve seen the biggest scam ever, a bigger one comes galloping over the horizon.  Well, I take it back.  Bernie Madoff’s is dwarfed by TARP.  Let’s call Bernie’s the biggest scam by a single individual.  Fifty billion dollars is enough to put a dent in almost anyone’s checking account.

For lay readers, the document currently circulating as Madoff’s “indictment” is not an indictment in technical legal terms.  Indictments are handed down by grand juries.  This document is a criminal complaint filed with the court by a single complainant who, in Madoff’s case, happens to be an FBI agent.  An indictment may follow.  Whatever the nature of the document, the key lesson for readers is one that American investors, especially, seem reluctant to internalize. Continue reading