So far, most the stories we’ve heard about millions of dollars lost to Bernard Madoff have involved around major institutions and famous individuals. Few regular investors have wanted to speak up. There is a degree of embarrassment about being on this Swinder’s List, though considering Madoff’s reach, I’m not really sure why.
Last week, however, one retiree who was living off the income from his investment with Madoff shared his story with me. This is the top of the article I wrote for The Jewish Journal:
Bob Braslau was still mourning his wife, who died two days before Thanksgiving, when Uncle Stanley called on Dec. 11 with more bad news.
It was gone — all the money that Bob and Sheila Braslau had invested with her uncle, Stanley Chais, going back three decades, was gone. They, like countless others, big and small, had been swallowed up by the Bernard Madoff investment scandal.
And like most, they never saw it coming.
“When we asked for money, we got it when we wanted it, year after year,” said Braslau, 75, of Santa Monica. “There was never any question of reliability.”
It’s unclear whether Braslau is among those who ended up ahead, but regardless, he’s now out a substantial nest egg that he was counting on, and his concern is with getting to the grave — he’s hoping for 10 years — without going broke.
“My personal theory is that he started as a legitimate investor,” Braslau said of Madoff. “He was a real genius. But then this recession happened, and people started asking for their money and he reverted to this Ponzi scheme. It doesn’t really matter, for those of us hoping to recover our money, when he started. There’s no money left.”
“The chance of us recovering any money, I think, is less than zero.”