Earning Money?


Bernard Madoff's police photo
US Department of Justice

Liz Waid and Joshua Leo tell the story of Bernard Madoff. He stole more than 18,000,000,000 dollars from investors!

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Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Liz Waid.

Voice 2

And I'm Joshua Leo. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

Bernard Madoff stood in court. He listened as his victims spoke about his crimes. They described how he had stolen their money. They described how he had hurt them.

Voice 2

He listened to the judge's decision – one hundred and fifty years in jail. Why was the sentence so long? Bernard Madoff had not stolen money from a few people. And he had not stolen one hundred dollars, or even one thousand dollars. He had stolen more than eighteen thousand million [18,000,000,000] dollars, from thousands of people!

Voice 2

Today's Spotlight is on Bernard Madoff, and his financial crime – a Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme is a particular kind of financial crime. It takes its name from Charles Ponzi, a criminal who used this method many years ago to steal money from people. A Ponzi scheme is a type of fraud. Fraud is common around the world - anywhere that people use money! Fraud is a kind of lie - lying to people so that they freely give money to the liar.

Voice 1

Madoff's Ponzi scheme was an investment fraud. He was a well known investment manager. People gave him control of their saved money. The idea was that he would invest the money in global financial markets. They would earn money through these investments – sometimes a lot of money!

Voice 2

Madoff began his investment business in 1960. His company grew to be one of the largest investment companies in the United States. Madoff also served as the leader of the NASDAQ stock exchange - one of the most important financial markets. With his brother, he worked to make this market more responsible, and honest. They used computer networks to help this happen.

Voice 1

This is one reason that so many people trusted Madoff. He was very successful - and he worked for openness and honesty in financial markets. However, at the same time, for twenty years, he stole a lot of money from investors.

Voice 2

So how did he do it? Madoff's financial organisation was divided into two parts. One part was an honest share-dealing business. It provided a service for people wanting to buy and sell company shares. But in the same building, a separate business was operating in other offices. This business promised to invest people's money and make good profits for them. Many people and organisations gave Madoff control of their money. They hoped they would make big gains - but they did not know this business was in fact a Ponzi scheme.

Voice 1

Madoff's Ponzi scheme worked like this: The investors expected to earn interest on their money. They believed that their money was growing. But Madoff did not actually invest the money that people gave him. Instead, he used money from new investors to pay old investors. Madoff continued to attract new investors, to continue the scheme. And some people did gain from their investments - when they closed their investments, Madoff did give them their money. However, he used the money from new investors to pay them.

Voice 2

Madoff continued this scheme for more than twenty years. He offered a high interest rate - he promised that people could make a lot of money with his investments. And many important people invested with him, including the Hollywood director Steven Spielberg. Some critics questioned Madoff's success, but there was no evidence that his investments were a fraud.

Voice 1

A Ponzi scheme can continue for a long time. But finally, it cannot continue to pay the investors. And this is what happened with Madoff. He told his family about the fraud in December 2008. They immediately called the police, and Madoff was arrested. There are many estimates about the size of the fraud. But over the years, he had hundreds of thousands of investors. They had invested more than sixty five thousand million dollars. Most of the money was gone. It had gone in payments to other people. And Madoff had also used the money himself.

Voice 2

At his trial, Madoff spoke to his victims. He said that he had not planned such a large financial fraud. He said,

Voice 3

"I am thankful for this chance to speak about my crimes. I am very sorry, and I feel great shame."

"I know I have deeply hurt many, many people."

Voice 2

Most of Madoff's victims did not believe these words. Some had lost all of their saved money - the money they needed as they got older. Some had lost more than a million dollars. At the court, some victims were satisfied with the judgement. But others were not. They just wanted their money back - the judgement would not return their money.

Voice 1

It is likely that Madoff will spend the rest of his life in prison. And he has also paid a larger price. His brother and sons worked as investment managers too. They are not accused of the same crimes - it seems that they did not know about the fraud. But the pressure was too high for Madoff's older son. In December 2010, he killed himself.

Voice 2

Madoff's Ponzi scheme was very large. It affected many people, in many different countries. But financial crimes like Ponzi schemes are not always large. Much smaller financial crimes are common in many countries.

Voice 1

So how can you protect yourself? There is one simple rule for avoiding financial fraud: "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!" When someone gives you a financial offer, are they promising something much better than anyone else? Does it seem too good? Then it may be false - a fraud. In that situation, ask a lot of questions. Investigate before you give any money. Make sure that you can trust the offer.

Voice 2

Financial fraud is serious. But it would not be successful without greed. People need money, but it is possible to love money too much. Earning money takes hard work. It takes attention to the details. It is not possible to earn a lot of money with no effort. Bernard Madoff used his investors' desire for money, and he stole from them.

Voice 1

What do you think? Have you seen any financial crimes where you live? Share your comments on our website: http://www.radio.english.net. ; Or you can write to us at radio@english.net.

Voice 2

The writer of today's program was Christy VanArragon. The producer was Joshua Leo. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. This program is called "Earning Money?"

Voice 1

You can also find Spotlight on Facebook. Just search for Spotlight Radio. We hope you can join us for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

Are financial crimes like Madoff's common in your country? What do you do to protect yourself?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
GelezniyDen
said on February 09, 2011

Hello everybody. It isn’t surprise for me because very lot amount of people over the world just trust all that them frauds offer. And even in internet you can be deceptioned.  Be careful.

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Bombeo
said on February 11, 2011

He is Best scammer ! But I don’t like him

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Manh Tu
said on February 11, 2011

There are many ways to earn money, but the ways that Madoff used are very exsessive!

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White Hands
said on February 11, 2011

earning money is so hard for every person in the world equally. so many people try to find an investment chance to earn money easily. For me, trading derivative(option, future based on kospi200(the korea stock index)) seemed to make money easily and rapidly. But as U guess, i have lost many money by trading derivative. after i closed my derivative account, i can realized that ‘It is not possible to earn a lot of money with no effort’

^^

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kenhieuloilam
said on March 29, 2012

We learn and train. We wish good things. All of us try much to live our lives well. We have goals in the life. We make much effort for success. The life also has lucks, successes, risks and failures. We go on true way. When do wrong things we go on wrong way. It is good to realize or to be shown wrong things. Repairing wrong things help us return on true way. True way give us real success. Wrong way cannot give us real success. Wrong way lead us to tragedies. It is sad when we are in these tragedies.

humble71's avatar
humble71
said on March 30, 2012

Yes, in my country Ecuador at Southamerica happened this situation in 1999 when the financial system broke and I lost all my money in a bank because the owner promised all the people that they can increase earnings succesfully, at the end the owner of the most succesfull bank in my country was in the jail but never came back money . It’s sad when you live this situation because it’s difficult to trust again in a bank or when you are buying something big like a house or a car .About the program , I think this person felt guilty after live inside his heart like a liar and hurt a lot of people . The penalty is nothing because his crime was very big.

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Skender
said on March 31, 2012

This article can help everyonee in order to save their money. Ponzy scheme afected my country in 1997. There was not just one but almost ten liar-investors who collected money from people and gave them back a higher interest. That was working for about three years and when the scheme was known as a fraud, all people were seeking their money back and the scheme colapsed. People were angry with liars and with government which didn’t protect them.
Skender from Albania

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on July 31, 2013

Hi all
I think a life honest is very much that a life dishonest.
Thanks Spolight

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vivianhuang
said on August 01, 2013

In my country,many people’s money were stolen by Poni scheme in different areas.I feel sorry for that victims.But please remember No pain no gain and TOO good to be true.Maybe it will protect your money.Earning money takes hard work.It is impossible to earn big money without any efforts.It must be a fraud. In my opinion,it is really a good educational paper.I am thankful to read it.

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Marlon Patrick
said on August 17, 2013

Here in Brazil is happening a big discussion about this theme: Ponzi scheme. Many new companies of Marketing Multi Level (MLM) are emerging and him format of remunaration has a great difference in comparision with “tradicional” MLM companies: the new MLM guarantees a monthly permanently gain.

With so there are a large debate in the social medias, streets, work in short, anywhere. The justice is learning how to treat each case, but, some enterprises are locked until that prove that are sustainable.