Wall Street con artist Bernie Madoff has died at the age of 82.
Madoff is the man behind the largest Ponzi scheme in history. On Wednesday, he died while still in prison, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He died at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, NBC News reports. At this time, there are no details on the manner of Madoff’s death. However, a medical examiner is expected to release that information shortly.
Madoff was sent to prison for 150 years after he was found guilty of scamming thousands of investors out of an estimated $65 billion in promised returns on $20 billion invested over the years, Ethan Stacks of NBC News reports. Some of the people he defrauded were well-known figures such as Steven Spielberg, Kevin Bacon, and Kyra Sedgwick.
Others were smaller investors who invested their life savings and pensions. NBC News reports that Madoff would use the money from new investors to pay off older ones.
Matthew L. Schwartz, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, led the investigation into Madoff. He said the number of people Madoff negatively impacted was astonishing. “Because of how long this lasted, it was completely devastating to so many victims.”
“There were so many people who effectively treated him like a bank and kept their entire life savings with him, so when it was all revealed to be a sham, people were not able to live their lives anymore,” Schwartz said. “They couldn’t pay tuition. They couldn’t pay their mortgages.
“There were so many heartbreaking stories of people who thought they had material savings, who had thought they put everything into their nest egg and that they would be able to retire, and instead they ended up effectively homeless.”