Prosecutors submit scam e-mail with Madoff victim letters

Alleged victim in Arizona describes Madoff as a "murderer" for precipitating the suicides of at least two money managers wiped out in the scandal.

Bernard Madoff 248 88  (photo credit: AP)
Bernard Madoff 248 88
(photo credit: AP)
Forget an eye for an eye - in the case of financial fraud Bernard Madoff, at least one person thought it would be worth trying to extract justice via a scam for a scam. Along with heartfelt pleas from bankrupted retirees and parents whose savings for their children's college educations had been wiped out in Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme, US federal prosecutors submitted a classic hoax e-mail to the judge overseeing the case, allegedly from someone seeking an investment partner for $3.5 million supposedly inherited in the Republic of Congo. "Ever since I move to Dubai due to the problem in my country, I have not been able to invest the funds in Dubai due to security reasons," reads the e-mail, which was sent March 7. "Now I am seeking foreign assistance to transfer the funds to your country," wrote the sender, whose email address and name were redacted. The e-mail goes on to promise a 10 percent cut of the funds in exchange for "absolute assurance that the funds will be safe and you will not sit on it when it is transferred into your account." "If this e-mail offends your moral value, do accept my apology," the sender added. It was not clear whether the hoax accidentally found its way to the public address prosecutors made available for victims of the Madoff fraud, or whether it was intentionally submitted as a critique of the scheme, which collapsed in a matter of hours last December. US Attorney's Office spokeswoman Janice Oh told The Jerusalem Post the office had no comment on how the hoax e-mail wound up in the collection entered for review by US District Judge Denny Chin before Madoff pleaded guilty March 12. The hoax was discovered by a reader of the Talking Points Memo blog, whose editor, Josh Marshall, posted an item Sunday night asking how many of the dozens of e-mails submitted by prosecutors in the case were simply "crank" messages. "Really a bang on this one, guys," Marshall chided prosecutors. The letters, released Friday, included a missive from Richard B. Shapiro, from Hidden Hills, Calif., who wrote that he had lost 30 pounds after losing three decades' worth of savings. "Can you imagine just waking up one day and finding out someone had stolen all of your life's work and savings?" he wrote. Another alleged victim in Arizona described Madoff as a "murderer" for precipitating the suicides of at least two money managers wiped out in the scandal, and a "rapist" for violating the fruits of investors' labor. "You have stolen not only from us but from our children and grandchildren who would have benefited from our life savings," the person wrote. Other e-mails were not from duped investors. Among them was one from someone claiming to be a stockbroker who said "as an American patriot, I need to respond" to a news report on the Fox network about Madoff's plea deal. "How about growing some New York size guts and charge Bernard Madoff, his wife, and sons as a RICO criminal conspiracy," the writer challenged the prosecutors. Madoff pleaded guilty March 12 to securities fraud, perjury and other charges and faces up to 150 years in prison at his sentencing, set for June 16. He had been confined to his Upper East Side penthouse on $10 million bond but is now housed in a federal jail in downtown Manhattan. An appeals court has rejected his lawyers' request to release him until sentencing. Madoff notified 4,800 clients of his investment advisory business in November that they held nearly $65 billion in their accounts. Investigators say they have located only about $1 billion and believe investors entrusted Madoff with less than $20 billion. They say it is likely that the higher numbers were the result of Madoff reporting fictitious profits over several decades. AP contributed to this report