Doubt Cast on $50B Figure in Madoff Case

Insiders think real losses closer to $20B; no one really knows
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 6, 2009 9:35 AM CST
In this Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009 file photo, Bernard L. Madoff leaves Federal Court in New York.    (Stuart Ramson)
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(Newser) – Bernard Madoff and $50 billion. His name and that number have become inseparable in describing the enormity of what has been called the largest white-collar fraud in history. Investigators claim Madoff himself told them that he stole $50 billion, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the number may be as fictitious as the sprawling fraud he allegedly ran.

A growing number of people involved in the case are saying that the actual loss to investors could be far less than the mind-boggling total often treated as fact. The actual number is not known at this point, but some believe it's less than $20 billion. The president of the Securities Investor Protection Corp. said he believes the $50 billion estimate is unreliable because it "includes entirely fictitious profits" that Madoff said he brought investors over the years.