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Review: Madoff and the Scamming of America

Ripped Off: Madoff and the Scamming of America from the History Channel, is an entertaining video about the Madoff Affair. I borrowed it from the Ottawa Public Library (which I strongly suggest you support if you live in Ottawa).

The video’s content is no more in-depth than most of the Magazine articles I have seen on this topic. However, it does do a very good job of putting a face on the victims of this crime. That is what makes this video intriguing to me.

Madoff and the Scamming of America
The DVD from Amazon

Bernie Madoff was not just a Wall Street insider, he was the Wall Street insider, and because of his positions on the NASDAQ board, and his investment house, he was the last person to be suspected to be running a Ponzi scheme, however, as we have learned, it is always the least likely ones that seem to be the biggest perpetrators  of this kind of scheme.

The Scamming of America?

The video outlines Madoff’s rise to legitimacy, and gives some useful background on the Ponzi Scheme and about the man who was first caught running this kind of scam Charles Ponzi . The main allure of these kind of schemes seems to be at a few social levels:

  • Exclusivity is a good lure, if the scheme does not allow just anyone in, more people want to join it. To quote Groucho Marx, “… I would never join a club that would allow me to be a member…”.
  • The person who runs the scheme is typically a Sociopath, or has an inate ability to manipulate family and friends into investing. These schemes start with family, friends and then goes after communities (fellow church goers, as an example).

The video does a very good job outlining how regular intelligent (and in this case very rich) people and institutions (many hedge funds were highly invested in Madoff’s scheme) were duped by this man.

At times I found myself feeling very little sympathy for the investors who lost their money (which is an awful thing, and I feel ashamed that I do), but at times you keep asking, “How did you fall for this?”. I then remember how much money I lost on Nortel. This makes me feel even more ashamed, for revelling in these people’s plight. Everyone can be fooled at some time, by a slick operator.

In the words of Gordon Gecko… greed is good…” is every one’s credo, when it comes to money (OK, most people).

My Opinion

I found the Scamming of America entertaining, a little insightful, but I didn’t pay any  money for it. I am not sure I would buy it, but getting it from the library made it a fun 50 minute watch.

There is also another documentary about how we are heading for the next great depression, which I didn’t watch.

This was an unsolicited review (for disclosure sake).

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