01/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Madoff Winners May Have To Give Back Earnings, Too

Should you be penalized if you were smart enough to pull your money out of Bernard Madoff Investment Securities before it imploded in what appears to have been a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme? That's only one of the depressing issues facing investors who put their trust in Madoff.

For starters, simply trying to fathom the assets and liabilities of Madoff's firm will be a Herculean challenge. "I don't think the extent of the losses is going to be known for months," says Stephen Harbeck, CEO of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. "This is a completely different order of magnitude than anything that has gone before it, certainly in terms of brokerage firm failures or any other kind of financial institution fraud. This is a monster."

Read more on Fortune