With Bernard Madoff pleading guilty to federal charges that will likely send him to prison for life, attention has turned toward his wife, Ruth. Or, more specifically, to two questions about her: What did she know of the fraud? And, will she keep the tens of millions of dollars worth of property and assets in her name?
At the height of his popularity in July 1920, Charles Ponzi arrived at his Boston office to a terrible surprise: A copycat business had set up shop down the hall, siphoning off his customers by offering the same eye-popping returns that had made Ponzi the most talked-about man in America.
It was inevitable that once the phrase "Ponzi scheme" returned to the news in the wake of Bernard Madoff's alleged swindle, a chorus of angry voices would rise to condemn Social Security as, in their words, "the biggest Ponzi scheme of them all."
One of the most vexing questions in the Bernard Madoff scandal is, "How did he get away with it for so long?" A disturbing answer might be found in an unexpected place - the predictable nature of some of his hardest-hit investors.
Investigators are trying to figure out whether the financial fraud allegedly perpetrated by Bernard L. Madoff was, in fact, the largest Ponzi scheme in history. The alleged scam, which cost investors $50 billion, sounds like a classic Ponzi racket.