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The Wilpons test their defense in the pages of the Daily News

Feb 10, 2011, 6:12 AM EST

Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon

As has become standard practice, the day after the New York Times says something bad about the Wlipons/Madoff case, the New York Daily News has a story — sourced, quite clearly, by Wilpon’s lawyers — endeavoring to counter it.  Today’s story: explaining the Wilpon defense.

And that defense:  “hey, if the Securities and Exchange Commission had no clue that Madoff was a fraudster, how on Earth could the Wilpons be said to have “known or should have known” that things weren’t on the up-and-up?”

And you know what? That defense has some surface appeal.  It’s the SEC’s job to sniff out such frauds. If they can’t do it, why should the Wilpons be expected to?  But here’s my problem with it, provided by Daily News itself:

In attacking the SEC, the Wilpons are echoing the claims in a civil suit brought against the commission in 2009 by Phyllis Molchatsky and Steven Schneider, two alleged Madoff victims who claim the SEC’s “negligence, incompetence, inexperience, inattentiveness and laziness” is to blame for the epic scandal.

“For at least 16 years, the SEC’s failure to follow basic investigative procedures and practices, or even to observe simple common sense, allowed Madoff to perpetuate his scheme, drawing in innumerable new victims who were totally unaware that the government agency sworn to protect them had fallen down on the job,” their suit says.

As lawyers annoyingly say sometimes, that argument proves too much.  It’s one thing to say that the SEC was itself hoodwinked and unable to uncover Madoff’s crimes, which is how a defense attorney unrelated to the Wilpons characterizes the defense in the story.  If that’s the case — if the SEC, using all of its investigative powers and native experience and intelligence hit a dead end — of course the Wilpons shouldn’t have been expected to do better. But it’s another thing altogether to say the SEC didn’t even try and was epically incompetent, and thus the Wilpons should be judged by that standard too.

Indeed, the other side of the accusations in that above quote is that anyone who “was able to observe simple common sense” or anyone who wasn’t “negligent, incompetent, inexperienced, inattentive or lazy” could have figured Maddof’s fraud out. Just because the federal agency charged with looking into Madoff was utterly incompetent doesn’t mean that reasonable, sophisticated investors with better information at their disposal about Bernie Madoff than the SEC had shouldn’t have been expected to do the basic kinds of due diligence the Wilpons are accused of not doing.

Put differently, if the city cop on the corner “fell down on the job,” people on the street aren’t permitted to break the law and can’t point to the face-down cop as a defense when the more attentive county sheriff comes to arrest them.  People still have a duty to act in a reasonable manner and behave the way the law expects them.

I’d have a lot more faith in the Wilpons’ defense if it was the SEC going after them. Because, yeah, it would take a lot of nerve for the SEC to say “you should have done better than us.”  But it’s not the SEC going after the Wilpons. It’s a trustee appointed to represent the interest of people who were wronged by Madoff. His claim isn’t that the Wilpons should have done better than the SEC. It’s that the Wilpons should have done better than the did based on the information they had at their disposal.  As such, pointing at the SEC as their defense doesn’t totally do it for me.

  1. chrisny3 - Feb 10, 2011 at 8:38 AM

    “Indeed, the other side of the accusations in that above quote is that anyone who “was able to observe simple common sense” or anyone who wasn’t “negligent, incompetent, inexperienced, inattentive or lazy” could have figured Maddof’s fraud out.”

    Ahhh, but here’s the problem with your latest attack on the Wilpons, Craig – The lawyers & previous lawsuits quoted are not saying that anyone with common sense should have known, they are saying anyone with common sense in the UNIQUE position of the SEC should have known.
    What you seem to forget in your latest anti-Wilpon, pro-Picard rant is that the SEC is UNIQUELY positioned and qualified to carry on an investigation of this kind, not only with the staffing, resources, and types of esoteric expertise needed to sniff out and uncover irregularities, but also with the requisite AUTHORITY to look in places no one else can.

    You need to start digging below the surface to see any irregularities – and ONLY the SEC could do that. IOW, anyone with common sense with the vantage point and authority of the SEC certainly should have known.

    I guarantee you, the SEC-defense will resonate with a jury. Because it is perfect common sense. As Bradley Simon, a defense lawyer quoted in the Daily News article says: “Everyone’s going to use the SEC defense … It’s a good defense.””

    You said:

    “Put differently, if the city cop on the corner “fell down on the job,” people on the street aren’t permitted to break the law and can’t point to the face-down cop as a defense when the more attentive county sheriff comes to arrest them.”

    Poor analogy. In this instance, no one is saying the “people on the street” are permitted to break the law. They are saying if the cop couldn’t identify, investigate and arrest the drug dealer, how are you expecting the “people on the street” to identify, investigate and stop the drug dealer? The cop has the much higher authority and responsibility.

    Here’s another analogy –Obviously, as consumers on the outside, we can exercise all the common sense in the world, but we cannot spot irregularities with an airline beyond surface blemishes – for example, irregularities in inspection schedules. We are entirely dependent on the FCC with their ability and authority to dig below the surface and use their COMMON SENSE within that context to spot and fix any irregularities and make flying safe.

    “I’d have a lot more faith in the Wilpons’ defense if it was the SEC going after them. Because, yeah, it would take a lot of nerve for the SEC to say “you should have done better than us.””

    In a roundabout way it IS the SEC going after them. The SEC is the party who took initial court action that brought Madoff down and which eventually led to the current bankruptcy proceedings. Ironically, even then, the SEC didn’t uncover anything on their own. It took whistle blowers – Madoff’s own sons – to lead them to the crime.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 10, 2011 at 8:48 AM

      Your biggest blind spot in all of your defenses of the Wilpons is that you are treating them like some Joe-investor who had no more information or access to Madoff than you or I would have to the people at E-Trade. This is patently false.

      The Wilpons and Katz were extremely close to Madoff and were given face-to-face meetings with him on an annual basis. They are also highly sophisticated investors who run their very own hedge funds. If the facts were different, it would not be out of the question for the Wilpons or Katz to be called as expert witnesses to pass on the diligence exercised by the SEC or the activities of Bernie Madoff.

      At trial, they will not be held to the standard that any ordinary investor would be held to. They will be held to the standard of an investor with top 1% knowledge of how hedge funds work and with a high degree of access and information related to Bernie Madoff.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 10, 2011 at 8:57 AM

        And you have a blind spot yourself, Craig. Because as it is clear in news reports, the type of access the Wilpons had to the Madoffs was of a strictly personal nature — ie, vacations together, attending family weddings.

        How do you think this conversation would have gone:

        Wilpon: Hey Bernie, XYZ doesn’t believe your investments are possible. What the heck is going on?

        Madoff: I can assure you Fred, everything is on the up-and-up, and the SEC has even investigated us. Your investments are safe.

        Madoff was one big lie. To uncover the lie, you needed to dig down below the surface. The Wilpons had neither the resources, expertise or authority to dig below the surface of Madoff’s operations.

        Also, I totally disagree with your personal assessment of the investment expertise of Wilpon/Katz as being top 1% or as being qualified to testify as expert witnesses in a hypothetical SEC trial. That is especially true of Wilpon, who supposedly left much of the investing up to Katz.

        And even if Wilpon/Katz are expected to know more than the typical investor — and I believe they will be held to that standard — that is nowhere close to the expertise, responsibility of the SEC. IOW, it won’t get the SEC off the hook.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 10, 2011 at 9:08 AM

        Using my FAA analogy, someone could fly a particular airlines 100 times a year. He would certainly considered to be a sophisticated traveler — much more savvy about the airlines and traveling than the average Joe. Yet he would have no practical way to spot or uncover irregularities inside the airlines’ operations the way the FAA would be required to do so.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 10, 2011 at 9:17 AM

        Except Sterling Equities is not an airline passenger in your analogy. They’re another airline. They have their own hedge funds. They run these things. They’re not mere investors.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 10, 2011 at 9:26 AM

        But in this particular Madoff case, Wilpon/Katz are the passengers. They have no access or authority to dig below the surface of the “airlines.”

        If the chairman of Delta flew Virgin airlines often, he would have no authority or access to dig below the surface and uncover any maintenance irregularities with Virgin airlines. He would have no way of knowing the Virgin planes he was flying were compromised.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 10, 2011 at 9:28 AM

        Just to be clear, I am not saying Wilpon/Katz were “mere” investors. I am saying as pertains to the Madoff investments, they were “just” investors.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 10, 2011 at 9:31 AM

        At the risk of straining this analogy beyond repair ….

        True: but if he was in his first class seat ten feet behind the cockpit and he heard the Captain say that the Widget-o-meter was broke, he’d be in a better position (first class) and have more knowledge (what the heck a widget-o-meter is) to know if there was reason for concern.

        And I’ll grant you: we don’t know the Wilpons actual or constructive knowledge of Madoff’s problems were at this point. We have allegations that they should have been on notice. If those allegations are borne out, they are in trouble. If not, they’re cool.

        The point, though, is that they can’t simply rely on a “we were duped too” defense. If the trustee presents evidence that a reasonable investor in their position should have done more than they did, they have to rebut it.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 10, 2011 at 9:42 AM

        First, it needs to be stated that so far, Picard has not shown one bit of evidence that Wilpon/Katz were told the “widget-o-meter” was “broke.”

        If Picard fails to show that eventually, then he will fail on that point in his lawsuit.

        Just showing that Wilpon/Katz are more savvy than the average Joe is not enough for Picard.

        Wilpon/Katz will prove that their resources, expertise and authority is well below that of the SEC who investigated Madoff a few times and found nothing. They will prove that they simply don’t have the capabilities to investigate Madoff (no individual investor does) and so shouldn’t have been expected to uncover such a scam.

        If this goes to a jury, the SEC defense will be used and I believe will resonate very strongly with them.

    • dandw2 - Feb 10, 2011 at 9:29 AM

      “for example, irregularities in inspection schedules. We are entirely dependent on the FCC with their ability and authority to dig below the surface and use their COMMON SENSE within that context to spot and fix any irregularities and make flying safe. ”

      since when is the FCC involved with airplane inspections?

      • chrisny3 - Feb 10, 2011 at 9:44 AM

        If you had bothered to read my subsequent posts where I said the FAA, you would have known that’s what I meant.

      • dandw2 - Feb 10, 2011 at 10:43 AM

        “If you had bothered to read my subsequent posts where I said the FAA, you would have known that’s what I meant.”

        Actually, most of the posts occured after I posted. Besides – in your initial argument, you should have been correct, it reduces your argument base when you can’t get things right on the first go-round.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 10, 2011 at 10:51 AM

        The posts where I went on to state the “FAA” occurred BEFORE you posted. Too bad you missed them. Your oversight detracts from your attempt to try to come off as knowledgeable.

        I made a simple minor mistake which I noticed almost immediately and corrected myself.

        It only detracts from the overall argument if you are firmly positioned on the Picard side.

  2. chrisny3 - Feb 10, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    As has become standard practice, the day after the New York Times says something bad about the Wlipons/Madoff case, the New York Daily News has a story — sourced, quite clearly, by Wilpon’s lawyers — endeavoring to counter it.

    You seem to have a problem with the Davis Polk Wardell sourcing in this story. How come you didn’t have similar problems with Picard and his staff feeding information under court seal to the New York Times? As a former defense lawyer, I would think you’d be happy that both sides of a story are getting out instead of leaving just a one-sided slanted narrative to stand.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 10, 2011 at 8:54 AM

      I noted just the other day that the Times stories are obviously sourced by the trustee. Both sides are doing it.

      And I don’t have a problem with his sourcing. I just think that readers should be made aware of the sourcing when considering the story.

  3. Reflex - Feb 10, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    I am going to point something out here that chrisny seems to not be aware of. Any investment group should never guarantee any level of return. In fact, in most states they legally can not guarantee or even imply a guarantee of returns.

    I went through securities training in the late 90’s for a major insurance and securities company(Traveler’s Group). This was hammered into us repeatedly. We at most could state that average returns could be as high as 7%, but we could not promise or predict them out at that or any level. We could only give clients a range based on various return rates, never higher than 7% and never a guarantee, implied or otherwise.

    Everything I have read states that Madoff either guaranteed or implied that a 10% return was minimal. This is not a minor claim, in investing this would absolutely destroy the ‘rule of 7′ that retirement planners live and die by(thats an estimate for average doubling rate of investments). That return would be so outlandish as to be a cartoon claim to anyone with any understanding of investment. Even worse, from the papers I’ve seen so far Madoff was promising the Wilpon’s a 15% return. When I read that words just flat out escaped me.

    These numbers sound low and reasonable to ordinary people unaquainted with investing. The Wilpons are not unaquainted with investing. Anyone who gave them such guarantees over a long term investment should have been laughed out of the room. I refuse to believe that a family worth billions is quite literally this stupid. You don’t build that kind of fortune on idiocy like that.

    This is why I do not feel very sorry for the wealthy investors and the direct investors who are losing out. Not the Wilpons. Not Speilburg. Not any of the athletes. Even a basic investment advisor could have told them that the claims were not realistic, and seen this as a probable fraud. In fact they’d have been legally liable to. Which tells me that they either have very low IQ’s and lucked into thier fortunes, or they participated willingly knowing it was probably a scam and hoping they could walk away before it all collapsed.

    I do, however, feel sorry for those who had no personal involvement. Who handed off their investment money to other companies who handled that for them and lost as a result of it. They at least knew enough to know they did not know how to handle things, and thought they were putting their money in the hands of professionals. They were the only real victims of this scam.

  4. chrisny3 - Feb 10, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    I am going to point something out here that chrisny seems to not be aware of. Any investment group should never guarantee any level of return.

    Well you are wrong. I happen to agree that no investment group dealing with investments like these should ever “guarantee” a level of return.

    But how does that impact the Wilpons case? Did Madoff really “guarantee” a certain level of return? Even if he did, so what? Wouldn’t you stay or pull out of an investment based not on what someone promised but based on the underlying securities and the actual return? I’m sure his investors stayed with him not because of any guarantees but because of the performance of the investments. Regardless of any guarantees, if the investments hadn’t performed, they would have withdrawn their money.

    Do I feel sorry for the Wilpons/Katz that they lost money in Madoff? No. Not really. As I said previously, they will be rich even after all this is said and done. What I did say is I feel sorry for them that they are being unfairly accused of wrongdoing and dragged through the mud by the bankruptcy trustee and some in the media.

    • Reflex - Feb 10, 2011 at 4:43 PM

      “Well you are wrong. I happen to agree that no investment group dealing with investments like these should ever “guarantee” a level of return.”

      What am I wrong about? In most states guaranteeing a rate of return on these types of investments is illegal. In most states even implying a fixed return is illegal. This is not a savings account, this is a supposed investment firm. Different set of rules apply.

      “But how does that impact the Wilpons case? Did Madoff really “guarantee” a certain level of return?”

      According to many of the documents disclosed so far, Madoff did indeed guarantee returns.

      “Even if he did, so what?”

      It is at the least extremely suspicious, at worst, possibly illegal dependent upon how such guarantees were made.

      “Wouldn’t you stay or pull out of an investment based not on what someone promised but based on the underlying securities and the actual return?”

      Not if the promises were illegal, unethical, or flat out ridiculous as the Madoff promises were. That would be a huge red flag, regardless of what the returns ended up being.

      ” I’m sure his investors stayed with him not because of any guarantees but because of the performance of the investments. Regardless of any guarantees, if the investments hadn’t performed, they would have withdrawn their money.”

      There were no investments, it was a Ponzi scheme. So there was no way for it to underperform. This is why investors, especially large investors, need to do due dilligence and pay attention to red flags. There was nothing reasonable about the Wilpon’s approach to Madoff. The Wilpons were billionaires who presumably built their wealth by being smarter than their competitors. If that is true, then either they had a serious blind spot, or they were willfully negligent because they only cared about the money and not how it was acquired.

      “Do I feel sorry for the Wilpons/Katz that they lost money in Madoff? No. Not really. As I said previously, they will be rich even after all this is said and done. What I did say is I feel sorry for them that they are being unfairly accused of wrongdoing and dragged through the mud by the bankruptcy trustee and some in the media.”

      On what do you base your claims that they are being unfairly accused? So far the documents that have been released paint a pretty clear picture that they were either extremely negligent or active participants in the greatest fraud in the history of frauds.

      At the end of the day if they were feeding others into the scam, or even reccomending it, they deserve some of the blame. After all the only reason the scam was perpetuated was because people who know better kept it alive. If after a few years of unrealistic returns the Wilpon’s had pulled out, it would have collapsed decades ago. Instead they continued to feed new people in, and I am certain they were aware that that is what fed their own profits.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Feb 10, 2011 at 4:51 PM

        Totally agree. At best the Wilpons were incompetent, at worst they were complicit.

    • kiwicricket - Feb 10, 2011 at 4:45 PM

      “I’m sure his investors stayed with him not because of any guarantees but because of the performance of the investments. Regardless of any guarantees, if the investments hadn’t performed, they would have withdrawn their money.”
      …You hit the nail right on the head. GREED. Wilpon/Katz borrowed hundreds of millions from banks to invest with the guy for christs sake!!!

    • kiwicricket - Feb 10, 2011 at 5:06 PM

      Can you picture yourself ever going to your local bank, borrowing 10K against something, then investing it with some firm which pays out twice that of any other company on earth? You either have rocks in your head, or a greedy S.O.B risking an awful lot hoping to come out trumps(for a period of time).
      I know little about the financial world, can hardly even operate the internet sometimes and make wine for a living…..You’re telling me Wilpon/Katz didn’t know something was a foul with Madoffs returns?

  5. seeingwhatsticks - Feb 10, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    The facts are there were a lot of people who recognized that what Madoff was doing couldn’t possibly be legitimate, including the guy (whose name escapes me at the moment) that tried to turn him in to the SEC multiple times. The Wilpons are in the investment business, in theory that’s where their income outside of the Mets comes from, and yet they seem unaware of what Madoff was doing. The only explanations are that they didn’t want to know (or they wanted to believe he was legit because he was their buddy), or they were too incompetent to run the numbers and do the proper research on their own. Neither possibility paints them in a particularly flattering light. It also seems like the overwhelming majority of their investments, both personal and professional, were with Madoff. Remember, all the deferred money they owe to Bobby Bonilla and others was invested with Madoff so that in theory they could make a return on that investment before having to pay the players. Personally, I lean towards the incompetence angle with them for 2 reasons: 1. smarter investors would have smelled something fishy with a guy who was claiming big and steady returns despite a lot of fluctuations within the overall economy, and 2. smarter investors wouldn’t have put all their eggs in one basket whether that basket was legal or not. People in the investment business, even the ones who aren’t that good, surely understand the many reasons to diversify and yet it seems like, more and more, the Wilpons were invested almost solely with Madoff.

    And chrisny3, you keep saying the Wilpons will be rich regardless but where’s your evidence of that? They owe more than the Mets are worth and they lost a lot of personal wealth to Madoff. Just because they were rich doesn’t mean they will continue to be rich. Their fortune comes from the investment they’ve made in the Mets and Sterling Equities, both of which are currently in the tank. With their only sources of income in the red how exactly are they supposed to pay anything back? Sooner or later they’re going to have to sell the team, and they won’t get nearly as much cash from the sale as you seem to think they will once they’ve covered their debt.

    • bigharold - Feb 10, 2011 at 5:22 PM

      The guy you are thinking about is Harry Markopols, who in fact wrote a book about it, “No One Would Listen”. Interestingly enough this is a link to a NY Times review, .. the very same publication that seems to be the mouth peice for the trustees.

      http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2010/02/26/madoff-whistle-blower-slams-s-e-c-in-new-book/

      The Wilpon’s lawyers will beat the trustees lawyer over the head with the SEC defense and even the fact that he was turned in to the SEC by Markopolos and still nothing was done. So why would their client know better? And, it’ll likely work. Why? As Craig points out the Wilpon’s were not Joe Investor but the jury that decides this case WILL be Joe Investor. Also, and to my mind what seems just as important, is that it gets lost in a lot of the debate about the Wilpon’s and Madoff that as bad as Madoff’s reputation is now, how it is synonymous with investor fraud and greed it was THAT good before he got arrested. He was a legendary successful investor who helped found the NASDAQ and was well known for his philanthropic efforts. Put those two together and I think Joe Jury isn’t going to buy that the Wilpon’s did know better. And, if the Wilpon’s were as complicit as Picard’s law suit suggests why weren’t they arrested? How can you be so aware and not be an accomplice?

      I’m a Yankee fan with no interest in defending the Wilpon’s and I think you couldn’t put Maddoff in jail long enough if he lived to be three hundred and .. the death penalty is too good for him. I can see the Wilpon’s having to give back the money they profited from their investments from Madoff’s, which in and of itself is substantial, but that would seem to be it. This seems like the trustees are going after the Wilpon’s because they have deep pockets nothing more. They have an easy target that they are going out of their why to try in the newspapers. While that might be convenient it is not justice. But once you get lawyers involved logic and reason don’t stick around for very long.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Feb 10, 2011 at 6:26 PM

        I knew it started with an M but all I could think of was Moustakas because I have baseball on the brain, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t him (though it would have been impressive).

        I think you’re probably right as far as the legal approach the Wilpons will take, but I disagree with how effective it will be. It’s been pretty well proven that the SEC completely dropped the ball on Madoff and that when questions were raised (by Markopolis and others) they were not followed up on. You’re saying that “well he had a good reputation and the SEC never said anything” is a defense for the fact that they didn’t seem to do their own research. Besides, being a philanthropist and building a good reputation was all part of the scheme that Madoff was running. It was integral to his ability to induce more people into investing with him, but the Wilpons should have known to look past the reputation and look at the facts. Markopolis was not the only one to figure out that something wasn’t right, so why couldn’t the Wilpons come to the same conclusion? Every defense the Wilpons can put forward eventually comes down to something that is hard to believe and/or destroys their reputation:

        “As managers of multiple property developments, professional sports teams, and private equity holdings totaling billions of dollars we were too stupid to figure it out.” That would be tough for any jury to believe.

        “As managers of multiple property developments, professional sports teams, and private equity holdings totaling billions of dollars we were too lazy to look into it.” That one might be true but still isn’t really a valid defense against the lawsuit.

        “As managers of multiple property developments, professional sports teams, and private equity holdings totaling billions of dollars we simply didn’t know, or didn’t want to know, that it might not be real.” Again, possibly true but ignorance, willful or otherwise, is not a valid defense.

        Do they really want to go to court and have to put forward any of those defenses? Wouldn’t that destroy Sterling by ensuring that no one will ever invest with them again?

        I’m sure Picard will spend considerable time pointing out that the Wilpons WERE NOT Joe Investor, and as managers of other people’s money they had an obligation to their clients to use all of their expertise and resources to fully investigate exactly how Madoff was making the money he claimed he was before they invested with him. At the end of the day, what can they say to defend themselves against those accusations? That other people were doing it so it must be ok?

        Plus, I think Joe Investor on the jury is so disgusted at Madoff that they won’t have any problem ruling against those who may have actually profited from his activities. And I’m sure Picard knows this and will use it to his full advantage if this thing ever ends up in court. Whether that’s right or wrong is up for debate but that’s the reality of the situation. The public will be predisposed to punishing anyone who reasonably could or should have known what was going on.

  6. bigdicktater - Feb 10, 2011 at 7:09 PM

    Well, Bernie promised me 10%, delivered 18% over the years and I’m just grateful I only invested half my wad with him. Thank goodness the hacks at the SEC ignored Markopolos for so long.
    Enjoyed the back and forth chrisny3 and craig.
    Ooops, I’m outa bubbly…………
    “Hey, Jen, how about puttin’ on something tight and bring another bottle of Veuve out here by the pool, honey?”

  7. Reflex - Feb 10, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    I am curious why the SEC has anything to do with this. Nobody smart believes that someone can beat the system to the degree that Madoff claimed. In fact, if he really had such a successful system, why the hell would he ever invest other people’s money in the first place? Invest his own, become filthy rich, and be obligated to nobody. At the rate of returns he was getting he’d be a trillionaire within a few decades even starting from a few hundred grand.

    The SEC not catching on is a seperate issue. The Wilpons were not this stupid. Stephen Spielberg was not this stupid. Nor were any of the other high end clients investing directly with Madoff. They knew what they were buying into, or at least should have after the first few years. Tons of guys like Madoff fly under the SEC radar every single year, they are not an all powerful police force. One cannot determine if they are being scammed by whether or not the SEC has shut the person down, after all by that point they are no longer able to scam anyone.

    “Why did you hand your keys to that car thief?”
    “Well he wasn’t in jail, so I figured he wouldn’t steal my car!”

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