Before he left house arrest in his posh New York apartment to start serving a 20-year sentence, Ponzi schemer Marc Dreier attempted to explain his bizarre actions. Dreier sold bogus debt to expand his law firm, impersonating execs from other companies to do so. His criminal enterprise, he tells Vanity Fair, was based on desire for a beachfront Hamptons home. “I wanted to just, well, appease myself,” he says.
The desire for material fulfillment came after a divorce and a life in law that lived up to no one’s expectations, including Dreier’s own. “I wanted to be happy again,” he says. So he started selling the phony debt of an old client’s company. His connections let him continue the fraud for years as he expanded a firm awash in high-profile clients. Even in Toronto at the end of his journey, in a desperate attempt to impersonate a pension fund manager, he thought he could pull it off. “Each time I always thought it was the last one.”