Madoff Ruse Exploited Palm Beach's Clubby Ways

Swindler exploited ritzy Palm Beach culture to bilk investors
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2009 3:08 PM CST
A home belonging to disgraced investment guru Bernard Madoff and his wife Ruth Bernard Madoff is shown in Palm Beach, Fla.   (AP Photo/Jon Way)
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(Newser) – You have to give it to Bernie Madoff: The Ponzi pirate wasn’t your average fraudster, Daniel Gross observes in Slate. Look no further than Palm Beach, which was "ground zero" of his scheme. Madoff got where he did by “fiendishly exploiting the unique, clubby culture" of the place—"and of the global jet set that congregates there,” writes Gross. The scheme was “as much an anthropological story as a financial one.”

Here, where “people are defined as much by the company they keep as by the companies they own,” acquiring Madoff’s services was like “gaining admittance to a hoity-toity club.” Investors ignored suspicious practices (lack of fees and statements) because they knew him personally. But now, Madoff’s name is pronounced “with a quasi-ritualistic spit, the way Nixon’s once was.”