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Madoff Victims Still Awaiting Restitution

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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB)--You can bet sales of black trench boats took a hit the year Bernie Madoff—and his brother—went back and forth into federal court back in 2009.

Orange is the new black for Madoff--who will spend the rest of his life behind bars at a federal jail near Raleigh, North Carolina.

Five thousand former clients, who are now better described as victims, are trying to recoup at least some of their losses.

Of his more than 35,000, 20% on are in Florida. 62 live in Sarasota County. Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-Longboat Key) is now working to get them compensation.

"There's a lot in Palm Beach, Florida is number two in the country, but there is a lot in the Sarasota area as well," Buchanan said.

That's why Buchanan is pushing the Attorney General's Office to step in and speed up distribution of $4 billion dollars in aid to Madoff's victims. 

"I've talked to many families who have lost their net worth, the fact that I've seen nothing has been distributed, we need to find a way to move that process along, and that's why we decided to work with the attorney general to see if we can make this happen a lot quicker than it's been happening," Buchanan said.
Since our interview, Buchanan's office issued a press release saying the Attorney General's office has agreed to take a closer look at the delays--and local financial experts say it's about time.
Gabriel Hament is an investment adviser to nonprofits, and it was clients like his who lost money.
"Folks need to be compensated to the fullest," Hament said. "Something like this happen once in a generation, we're talking about $100 billion dollar Ponzi scheme. and the paybacks take years, we're talking about taking money from away from charitable institutions who thought they had realized these profits that Madoff generated year after year, profits of 8% - 12%. That wasn't actually real.
So while Buchanan tries to get compensation for victims, how can you make sure you're never robbed of your life savings?
Rob Lyons has been a financial planner for nearly 40 years—currently Managing Partner of Generation Wealth Planning. He says you need to make sure your money is being held by a 3rd party bank or brokerage firm. 
"A way to have checks and balances for you," Lyons said. "Bernie Madoff did not have that, he not only managed the assets but he held them."
"The reason Madoff got away with this is because he issued statements that were falsified, there was no third party custodial institution that was issuing statements that confirmed that the returns were real because the returns were fake," Hament said.
And how would these men describe the man in black?
"Honestly? Psycopath. He is a person who preys on other people If he were not in the financial business, he would have preyed on people in other ways," Lyons said. "It's at the core of who he was as a human being."
Buchanan says he wants to do whatever is in his power to help the victims get back at least a piece of what they lost.
"We hear about con men and stuff, I can't even imagine the right word.  He put together a Ponzi scheme that had to be one of the largest in the history of the country," Buchanan said. "I've talked to families that have lost their life savings and its just a tragedy, it's unbelievable, so that's what I want to do is  they'll probably only get a fraction of what they're owed."