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Emma Devita

"What happened to Madoff victims could happen to anyone...I simply could not believe that all those brokerage account statements, stock transaction statements and 1099s reporting all my 'earnings' were nothing more than tissue paper..."


I am a product of the Great Depression.   I learned to never buy anything I could not pay for. I have always lived within my means, I have no debt, and have always saved for the future.  The men in my family all proudly served in the US armed forces.  I paid my taxes on time and always believed that my government would - be there for me when and if  I needed them.  I was VERY wrong.  What happened to Madoff victims could happen to anyone.  I never thought I would be the victim of a crime, let alone the largest financial crime in history and our government’s failure to make good on the promises of SIPC.  Nor did I ever think that my government would ignore me for so long and force us to fend for ourselves.  

On December 8, 2008, I was at my local bank arranging to close my Madoff account as a part of my retirement plan when I learned that I had been wiped out.  A week or two later, I heard officials from SIPC announce that I would receive an insurance payment of $500,000 since I had well over that in my account.  My account included two decades of savings, my pension money from my long career at Sears, and my deceased husband’s pension from working as the Superintendent of the local YMCA that we had carefully saved. I researched the law that created SIPA and confirmed that the law states that SIPA will advance any and all investors up to $500,000.00 of their total invested funds.  Then my world came crashing down again when the Trustee overseeing the Madoff fraud told me all of my brokerage account statements, stock transaction statements and 1099s reporting all my “earnings” were nothing more than tissue paper and that it didn’t matter what my account statement said, only he had the power to decide what I really had, not the law.

I have spent untold hours over the last 3 years reading news items that describe in sickening detail the role that various government entities, foremost the SEC, played in allowing Madoff to perpetrate his fraud for so long.  I know first hand, as well as from the news,  how the Trustee overseeing this liquidation continues to re-victimize those who’ve already lost everything and have been  traumatized. I hope and pray that our elected legislators learn the true facts of this horrendous failure and do the right and moral thing, not only for victims of the Madoff fraud, but for the victims of all future frauds subject to  SIPC liquidations.  There will, unfortunately, be a next time.  Without passing HR XXXX any victims of the next fraud are currently being misled into believing that they too will receive the promised SIPC insurance.  Is it too late for Madoff victims? I don’t know; but I do know I do not wish what we have gone through on anybody.