The Story Behind The Greatest Ponzi Schemer Of The Century, Bernie Madoff

If you’re still jonesing for a taste of real crime stories made for television after yesterday’s premiere of The People Vs. O.J. Simpson, tonight is the premiere of Madoff, a two-part TV special. It stars Richard Dreyfuss as Bernie Madoff, a criminal so popular that both Dreyfuss and Robert De Niro will be playing him in two different projects. In case you don’t know, Madoff was the man behind the greatest Ponzi scheme of the century and ruined the lives of many people. So, let’s take a stroll down Wall Street’s memory lane for a refresher on the man’s story.

Before his fall, Madoff was one of the most respected traders, handling more than 5 percent of NYSE trading volume and was named the NASDAQ chairman in his career. But not everyone was fooled by his image. Harry Markopolos, a former securities industry executive, continuously warned the SEC about Madoff’s impending scheme. While they investigated the man, Madoff was found fraud-free, for the time being anyway.

In 2008, Madoff finally confessed to his family and his senior employees that he was guilty, even telling his son that his business was “all just one big lie.” He was arrested on December 11, 2008 and charged with securities fraud and money laundering, among a host of other charges. Madoff claimed to have no innocent explanation and estimated the losses at $50 billion. But the losses weren’t just financial, as his colleagues, clients, and one of his own sons committed suicide.

One year after the trial, a sentence of 150 years in prison landed on Madoff’s head. Currently, he’s seen as a “big shot in prison” and has tried to make peace with what his life has become.