Madoff’s prison interview

February 16th, 2011

In his first interview since going to prison, Bernard Madoff told the New York Times that others were complicit in the fraud that brought him down. Boston University law professor Tamar Frankel is an authority on securities law, corporate governance, and legal ethics. Her latest book, “Con Artists and their Victims (of the Ponzi Variety)” will be published next month. Frankel believes he isn’t any different than other con artists and is just one of the crowd.

“My study of hundreds of con artists of the Ponzi scheme variety shows that Madoff is no exception. He copied and followed a trodden path.

“First, he blamed others. As one con artist said about his victims, ‘Serves them right if they were stupid enough to believe me.’ Second, self-aggrandizement is another feature of these con artists. Here is a person who claims that no one but himself – single handedly – ‘conned’ so many sophisticated persons for so long and for so much money. The ego must be fed.

“I have analyzed how con artists manage to induce very sophisticated and wealthy persons. Madoff is just one of the crowd. The only uniqueness was his payment of somewhat higher returns on fairly level, long-term basis. But he simply fit the promise to his ‘marks.’

“So let us cease to look at this particular person and view the system which thousands bave been practicing not only in the U.S. and all over the world. We should find the patterns and then ask ourselves why and how people fall for these scams. These are far more important questions.”

Contact Tamar Frankel, 617-352-3773, tfrankel@bu.edu

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