The only question we have now is whether the Madoff Ponzi scheme started before Madoff got involved — that is, to say, whether his job was merely to continue a fraud that someone else had started. According to documents seen by Bloomberg, Madoff promised huge returns from his first day in business and that his father-in-law, for whom Madoff worked, was a key recruiter. Remember, too, that Madoff’s parents had some kind of run-in with the SEC, so the inter-generational angle of the story is possible:
Madoff, accused by the U.S. of running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, got a boost in his early years from accountant Saul Alpern, the father of his wife Ruth. Alpern referred friends and their relatives who spent winters in North Miami Beach and summers at the Sunny Oaks Hotel in New York’s Catskill Mountains in the 1960s, according to Cynthia Arenson, the hotel owner.
“His son-in-law just opened a firm, and he was doing very well,” said Arenson, 68, who lost at least $1.25 million with Madoff. “Wouldn’t you encourage your friends to invest with him? Sometimes they got 18 per cent, sometimes they got 19 per cent.”