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Madoff Investors Deserve Better from Julie Jason

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 18, 2010 7:55 AM |

America is full of financial writers who have 20-20 hindsight. While I am fully respectful of writers everywhere who legitimately try to help investors, I have limited regard for those writers who are less than thorough in their pursuit of truth and transparency in the process. I witness just such a syndicated writer, Julie Jason, this morning. I welcome sharing a letter I just wrote to her in response to her weekly commentary:

Julie,

I truly appreciate your desire to help people but I also believe you provide a false impression as to the integrity and effectiveness of the financial regulator FINRA.

In your article Online Tools Gauge Investor Risk, you write,

“On a recent visit to a resort in Miami, I came across some investors who had been victimized by Bernard Madoff, the Ponzi schemer, or knew of people who had. The investors were quite vocal that they could never trust anyone again based on those experiences.

My regular readers, who know that I’m a born skeptic, won’t be surprised by my reaction: I asked why would you trust someone who offered consistently higher returns than the market could deliver?

That led to many discussions, and to a few confessions. It turns out that the lure of higher returns did indeed cloud judgment.

To avoid that problem, check out two online tools developed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States.

They are the Scam Meter and Risk Meter, which both can be found at www.finra.org, then clicking on investors and following the links.”

Julie, with all due respect, you very much give the impression that if these investors had only used these tools prior to making an investment in Madoff they would have been spared the pain and loss associated with their investment.

You fail to highlight when FINRA instituted these investor tools. By overlooking this fact, intentional or otherwise, you give the readers the false impression that the Madoff investors were partially to blame for not being more thorough prior to putting money into Madoff.

Julie, again with all due respect, you further victimize the Madoff investors with your writing. I commend you for highlighting tools that can help protect investors. Anything that can help investors is certainly worthy of praise. However, once again you promote FINRA without highlighting the information which I have provided you previously.

As a reminder, that information includes a complaint by a FINRA member firm, that being Amerivet Securities, which alleges that FINRA’s own internal investment portfolio had money invested in Madoff. Perhaps those within FINRA should also have utilized their own tools prior to making an investment in Madoff!!

Repeated calls on FINRA to release details on this alleged investment fall on deaf ears. The complaint was just moved from the federal court in Washington D.C. into the state court system. Hopefully, American investors at large and Madoff investors specifically can learn all the details regarding FINRA’s alleged investment in Madoff.

Please read my review of this complaint which I wrote last August and highlighted for you a few months ago. I will share it with you again, Breaking News: Amerivet Complaint Against FINRA Alleges Madoff Investment.

In regard to the Madoff investors specifically, perhaps instead of taking a subtle shot at them you could provide them a forum to highlight the failures of regulators, primarily FINRA, to perform and protect them. The Madoff investors deserve our support, not subtle ridicule. Have the Madoff investors spoken up in calling out FINRA? You bet they have. Please review my commentary from last September in which I highlight, Madoff Victims Call Out FINRA.

In summary, Julie, I commend you for pointing out some basic tools which can now help investors. That said, you do investors everywhere and Madoff investors specifically a huge disservice by giving the false impression that these tools were there during the period when Madoff operated his scam.

Our nation needs all the investor protection it can get, but we also need full and total truth and transparency in our reporting.

I welcome the opportunity to discuss any and all of the points highlighted here. Additionally, I would be happy to meet and discuss a wide array of other topics which might help promote further investor protections.

Sincerely,

Larry Doyle
Sense on Cents

I will let readers know if and how Julie responds.

LD

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  • Tim

    Maybe Julie is getting paid on the side by FINRA?

  • I wrote the following letter to Ms. Jason’s email address.

    Julie,

    This email was forwarded to me by Larry Doyle, author of
    senseoncents.com. I am a Madoff victim and the Coordinator for the Madoff Victims Coalition, a group of more than 400 investors who have come together to find justice in this debacle.

    As such, I feel a strong need to comment on your recent article on the Greenwichtime.com website entitled “Online Tools Gauge Investor Risk”. There are some glaring issues which I feel incorrectly allude to the fact that
    Madoff victims were either negligent or ignorant when it came to doing the proper due diligence before investing (for many) their life savings.

    I have been privileged to meet in person or online with most of the victims in our group. As such, I can tell you that they are ‘average’ folks who felt they were taking the funds from years of hard work and trying to maximize their returns. They are not stupid people, quite the opposite. Many of our members owned their own businesses or worked as professionals. These people investigated Bernard Madoff. They were told repeatedly by the SEC that the was a legitimate broker. Many knew that his son sat on the adjudicatory board of FINRA and that Bernie himself was instrumental in creating NASDAQ. In fact, we now know that the SEC actually went to Madoff on occasions to ask his opinion regarding actions they should take in controlling the market.

    Every trade confirmation received by Madoff investors was emblazoned with the letters SIPC-promising protection (up to $500,000) for each customer in the event of a broker failure. But, we never worried about that because our government, in the form of the SEC was assuring us he was legitimate.

    Madoff’s tentacles went far and wide. There were (are?) too many cracks in our regulatory agencies and we can thank Bernard Madoff for exposing them.

    I ask, if the agencies investors are relying on to investigate brokers are inadequate, negligent, or worse yet-possibly complicit, then how can an investor truly find a safe vehicle in which to put their hard earned money?

    I’d be happy to give you more insight from a victim’s perspective.

    Respectfully,

    Ronnie Sue Ambrosino
    Coordinator
    Madoff Victims Coalition

  • Peter Moskowitz

    In 1992 the same court handling the Madoff liquidation accepted 450 million dollars from Bernard Madoff. It then redistributed the money to investors with Avellino and Bienes. Those investors were not informed of the true source of that money. Instead they were told that they could invest that money with a person of the highest integrity (Madoff) who helped facilitate the A & B liquidation and the return of their funds. The court never bothered to verify the legitimacey of those funds. Instead it took money from a thief, distributed it to his victims, and then advised or allowed the victims to give the money back to the thief. I had never heard of Madoff before 1992. I would not have invested with him had it not been for the SEC and court proceedings which in effect certified his credentials. I thought my IRA was safe with him.

  • efitz

    I’m sure there are many people who were flat out swindled by Maddoff. But not all of them. The truth is some
    were too sophisticated not to know they were into something that wasn’t Kosher. But like any con of size, They just figured they were on the same side of the game as the con man. Ms. Kohn promised several feeder hedge funds “special returns” based on her relationship with Bernie. That is frankly, a red flag that any educated investor should know means “scam”. There are no “special returns” in the capital markets just for being a mensch. Certainly there are many good people who made a mistake, but I think honest people know in their hearts that a lot of Maddoff’s investors weren’t stupid rubes. A lot of them simply didn’t care where his returns came from or if they were even possible, as long as they got cut in on it.

  • disenchanted

    Efitz- I second your motion. It is human nature to want to win, at any cost. I know of one that lost a lot of money with him, still was quite well off, and then upon the death of a parent, called the executor to get a loan from the estate, besides what was this persons inheritance, because he needed to replace the funds lost by Madoff. Guess what happened to those new funds, gone, gone, gone!!

  • My wife and I have been clients of Julie’s for more than seven years and are pleased with the results. Our main objective is income with minimum risk. Despite the economy, our balanced portfolio has produced satisfactory results.

    As for Madoff, he fooled a lot of investors who were smart people who should have known better. The SEC should really be taken to task as they were warned early on. The bottom line is human greed. WPD

  • M. Herlihy

    Did JJ ever respond to your letter?

    Just wondering–gotta love the insiders protecting the insiders!

    (Good thing we aren’t finished yet.)

    • LD

      Never did respond to me. No surprise but when will somebody out there actually pleasantly surprise us and do something that is good, decent, and RIGHT.

      I am convinced there are a majority of great people out there but they do not get the attention they deserve.






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