Bernard Madoff would have made Charles Ponzi proud. He took Ponzi's namesake scheme and worked it to perfection. Both con men knew that their marks needed to be smart enough to understand they were cutting corners but also be possessed of the ablility to see the scheme's resulting profit; and above all, both men knew just where to look for their victims. They preyed on their own cultural communities, those predisposed to trust them. Charles Ponzi worked his charm on other Italian immigrants while the majority of investors in Bernard Madoff's swindle, like himself, were Jewish. Madoff used his ties to the community to hustle fellow jews be it financiers, fat cats, non-profit foundations or charities. "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't" the adage goes though a postscript should add "but the devil nonetheless." Beware the stranger in the mirror.
An enlightening video at the TimesOnline shows Madoff talking about risk and foreshadowing being found out.
Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme was only slightly more outrageous than the shell games of Wall Street. Cheap credit, low standards and high greed. Both were prepared to do anything to keep public and private spending surging. After all, it was legal for banks to give risky mortgages to people who couldn't afford them, bundle a group of them into bonds, and then receive premium ratings for these bonds. And like the belegured investors of Madoff and Ponzi, we believed the magical growth in our economy would go on for ever. So go easy on the suckers cuz we're all just looking for that one good investment.