Bernie Madoff, Mastermind Behind Infamous Ponzi Scheme, Dead at 82

by Matthew Wilson
Photo credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Disgraced financial adviser, Bernie Madoff has died. The infamous Wall Street fraud passed away on Wednesday (April 14). Madoff was 82-years-old.

According to TMZ, authorities didn’t reveal a cause of death except related to natural causes. Madoff’s death reportedly isn’t related to the COVID-19 virus.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons announced Madoff’s death on Wednesday. Madoff had been in its custody since his conviction in 2009. He passed away at a federal facility in North Carolina.

Madoff rose to infamy for his Ponzi scheme that cost investors billions of dollars. For the crime, a judge gave Madoff a 150-year sentence, effectively a life in prison term. Within the past year, Madoff had also been in poor health. For instance, experienced terminal kidney failure. Madoff made an effort to get his prison sentence commuted. He said during his prison sentence that a number of health issues were slowly killing him.

But a judge refused Madoff’s plea for a compassionate early release.

Bernie Madoff and His Ponzi Scheme

Bernie Madoff rose to infamy for his long-running Ponzi scheme. Madoff’s embezzlement cost investors billions of dollars that he stole over years. Eventually, Madoff’s various white-collar crimes earned him a spot behind bars after the federal government learned of his plot.

Madoff essentially took billions of dollars from investors, depositing them into a bank account to pay off other investors. On the surface, investors thought they were making money. But in reality, Madoff was pocketing the gains from his investors. The 2008 recession ended up being his undoing when Madoff didn’t have the money to pay back his partners. Most of the investors ended up losing all of their money in Madoff’s schemes.

With the jig up, Madoff pled guilty to a total of 11 federal felony counts. Some of the charges included wire fraud, securities fraud, and others. Despite pleading guilty, Madoff still ended up with a life sentence in prison and owing billions of dollars in assets.

For his victims, the Madoff Victims Fund managed to earn back $3 billion. But it ended up being only a fraction of the money that Madoff had swindled from them. The $3 billion was split among tens of thousands of investors who had lost their life savings.