How Madoff Became an Equal Opportunity Thief By Michelle Singletary Sunday, May 3, 2009 The infamous Bernard L. Madoff will no doubt be a boon to the book industry. With great speed, publishers will turn out books by financial reporters and historians analyzing Madoff and his methods in conning a great many people and institutions, including a senator, major financial companies, universities, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, movie stars, and the charity established by movie director Steven Spielberg. In "Catastrophe: The Story of Bernard L. Madoff, The Man Who Swindled the World" (Phoenix Books. $14.95), Deborah and Gerald Strober dip into the perspective of the unknown individual investors, many of whom saw their life's savings vanish. It's the billions of dollars lost by these poor souls that anger the Strobers. "It appears now that Bernard Madoff did not distinguish between his wealthy clients and the so-called little people, making him an equal opportunity thief," the couple write. The Strobers' book, one of the first rushed out on Madoff, is the May pick for the Color of Money Book Club. If you haven't taken the time to devour the many news reports on Madoff's dealings, the Strobers' book will catch you up. Its initial printing didn't include the money manager's March appearance and sentencing in federal court, so be sure you get the updated version. Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 felony charges, including securities fraud and investment adviser fraud, in what was an elaborate Ponzi scheme. No one really knows how much he stole, but reports put it at an estimated $65 billion. Madoff, a former chairman of Nasdaq, used clients' funds to pay other clients who sought to redeem their investments. "I am so deeply sorry and ashamed," Madoff told U.S. District Judge Denny Chin. "I am painfully aware that I have deeply hurt many, many people." "Catastrophe" is an intriguing, straightforward account of a man whose deception lasted decades. The Strobers, whose previous books include biographies of Billy Graham and Rudy Giuliani, ask lots of questions they can't answer given the quick publishing schedule. Instead, the book is filled with media reports supplemented with more than two dozen interviews in an attempt to understand the man behind the con. We learn that Madoff would turn away some potential investors to give an air of exclusivity that in turn heightened his allure to other investors. Brilliant plan when you think about it. It played right into people's need to get what others can't have. It's like women who vie to be the first to strut around carrying trendy handbags that others can't get or afford. continued.... Michelle Singletary - How Madoff Became an Equal Opportunity Thief Much of this we, presumably, already know. "Deeply sorry and ashamed" Madoff says to the judge, after he was caught of course. "Painfully aware...." I wonder. Exactly where is that estimated $65 billion that he stole? What should be done with the "missing" money if it's found?