Madoff Unmasked: The Cry of the Snookered Investor

01/18/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Rick Horowitz Milwaukee Public TV Commentator, Writing Coach, Writing & Editing Consultant

This I never expected -- not in a million years.

Not in a million years did I ever think this could happen.

It's like one minute you're standing on the ground, nice and solid, and the next minute there's no ground. Nothing under your feet, only this gigantic hole you just fell into and you can't stop.

Just like that -- first the one, then the other. How do you prepare for something like that?

You don't, that's how.

My husband, may he rest in peace, he said this is the man. This is a man you can trust.

Thanks to him, my husband said, we'll never have to worry about our money again.

Why him? Because. Plenty of reasons.

You trust him because you hear only good things about him. He's a genius, everybody says. Genius is good. Especially when it comes to money, everything's so complicated -- hedge funds, derivatives, foreign something-or-others -- genius is good. Genius is better than not, right?

You trust him because everybody else trusts him -- people you know, and people they know. Also people you've only heard about. Big shots. These people can go anywhere with their money -- they went to him. So you're thinking he must know what he's doing, he must be on the level. Not for a minute do you start thinking something's wrong here.

Understand, we weren't being greedy. We weren't looking for some big killings -- nothing we didn't deserve. Steady -- that's what we were looking for. Not for greed. For security.

If it's too good to be true, watch out -- everybody says that. We're not stupid. We know if it's too good to be true, watch out. This wasn't too good to be true -- this was just good enough to not have to worry.

Up years for the market, down years for the market -- it didn't matter. Always a decent return, like clockwork. Nothing flashy. Decent. Just like we thought he was.

We were so happy when he took us. Some people, he didn't take, but us, he said yes.

Who turns down money when you're trying to steal money? Of course he was on the level!

Why him? You trust him because he didn't take everybody, and because he belonged to the right country club, and he ran in all the right circles. Big corporations. The top names in real estate. He knew these people! He was friends with these people!

And the charities! Always working with the charities!

So how do you not trust him?

He's a genius, all right. Just not the right kind of genius.

We should have asked more questions. Fine. But who even understands what questions to ask? Forget about the answers -- who even knows the right questions? It's so complicated, that's why we needed somebody in the first place!

Who does this to people? That's what I want to know. Who takes families' life savings, everything they built up over all the years and years, everything they need for later, and just take like a thief until there's nothing?

It's terrible. That's what it is -- it's absolutely terrible.

Thanks to him, we'll never have to worry about our money again.

# # #

Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at