Bernard L. Madoff leaves US Federal Court after a hearing regarding his bail on January 14, 2009 in New York. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
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Surge in Victims Claiming Madoff Losses

More than $40 billion in claims sought as government widens investigation

by
Hannah Dreyfus
May 14, 2014
Bernard L. Madoff leaves US Federal Court after a hearing regarding his bail on January 14, 2009 in New York. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

More than five years after Bernard Madoff admitted to running what was the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, the scope of the fraud continues to widen. Thousands of additional victims have filed claims for compensation under a new effort administered by the Justice Department, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Irving Picard, the bankruptcy trustee who initially led the recovery process, had only allowed claims from people who had directly invested with Madoff. But Richard Breeden, who is currently leading the Justice Department effort, is reviewing claims from anyone who alleged to have money invested with Madoff, even through an intermediary.

And the claims have been flowing in. Since being appointed ‘special master’ of the Justice Department’s new efforts in 2012, Breeden has received more than 50,000 claims totaling more than $40 billion in losses. Nearly 70 percent of the claims reviewed by Breeden came from individuals who haven’t received money in previous recoveries.

“Everybody knows that this was a terrible crime,” Breeden told the Wall Street Journal. “But, frankly, the scale of it—in the number of people and the dollars and the dispersion around the world—all were bigger than anybody ever knew.”

The claims have came from as far away as Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar. Breedan, however, acknowledges that many of them will likely be thrown out as their veracity and proximity are investigated.

Hannah Dreyfus is an editorial intern at Tablet.

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