No One Would Listen

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Harry Markopolos talks about his years spent investigating Bernie Madoff and his $65 billion Ponzi scheme. While much has been written about Madoff's scam, few know how Markopolos and his team uncovered it years before it unraveled. In No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller, Markopolos details how the SEC missed red flags, how Madoff was able to pull off his scam, and what impact investigators will have on financial markets and financial regulation for decades to come.


Harry Markopolos

Comments [28]

O. Reely from NY, NY

"I suffered the long arm of this double standard as I served 18 months in prison specifically because I was Jewish and my Jewish judge had to use me as an example so as not to appear biased."

That is complete crap. Caplan served hard time because he tried (and failed) to do what Madoff succeeded in doing: fooling people into thinking they were too stupid to think for themselves.

Mar. 19 2010 08:15 PM
e from Norcal

I can't believe anyone who listened to the full interview would suggest that Markopoulos is anti-Semitic.
He had high praise for Spitzer (whom I also admire a great deal). But a lot of people who asked early questions about Madoff were called anti-Semitic - and some of those who asked the questions were Jewish investors who saw through Madoff's fraud.
These accusations of anti-semitism actually helped Madoff rip off so many Jewish people.
HM also pointed out that Spitzer was invested in Madoff. It was a mistake. But HM and Spitz are the good guys, and it is not about antisemitism.
Listen to the interview- don't just make wild claims.

Mar. 10 2010 12:41 PM

16/Benito/Harlem -- "If you're going to make a career out of busting fraud - don't be a fraudster/huckster yourself"

Agree with your comment. This interview would have been worthwhile if he was there to take down the NEXT Bernard Madoff. I mean, I don't think he's a criminal -- on the contrary. But he certainly used his intelligence and implied insider knowledge in order to impress Leonard and most of the above commenters. And to what end? I am so sick of Wall St.

Mar. 10 2010 07:42 AM
Vic from Chester, NJ the way, WNYC, I thought this was a great interview. Thank you Mr. Markopolos for your diligence in reporting and exposing this scam. And thank you Mr. Lopate for having him as a guest on your show.

Mar. 10 2010 01:38 AM
schooled in mold from CT

This gentleman is one of a kind. Whip-smart, courageous, super-ethical, learned in the tricks that are being used by so many in the US economy to game the system. I am disappointed in Mr. Obama for many of his appointments in Washington...where is the change? I wish he would appoint men like Harry Markopoulos and Charles D. Ellis each of whom knows Wall Streets’ ways inside out.

I am very impressed by his appointee Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel. She is sensible, sensitive, ethical and taking her task seriously. In my book, she is a REAL Hero(ine).

Another point that Markopoulos made in passing hit the nail on the head to me. He said he explained the Madoff Ponzi scheme to regulatory authorities in math that a sixth grader could understand. I am afraid that so many people holding important gov't (and probably corporate) positions aren't able to use basic math to logically evaluate information presented to them.

Mar. 09 2010 11:23 PM

OK, I just had a chance to listen to this podcast.

-The SEC didn't "know what he was talking about after the word hello?"

-Spitzer didn't go after Madoff "because he is also Jewish?"

I don't know what it is exactly (I'll bet gawker or the NYO could find out with a couple well placed calls if they cared...) but there is something very wrong with Mr. Markolopos. Yet another layer of creepiness has been added to this odd tale.

Also weird that Leonard let him go on uncontested. An otherworldly interview.

Mar. 09 2010 11:10 PM
Ro from SoHo

Clearly Mr. Markolopos is highly numeratively intelligent - with all its permutations, but he seems to have been so 'programmed' by his 'handlers' that he sounds wooden, brittle and unengaged in his responses. In short - nerdlike.

His interview lacked warmth and connection with Mr. Lopate & his audience. He came across as snappishly angry and unevolved emotionally.

That's his 'performance' - not his work.

I think he is truly to be respected and sincerely appreciated for his work to open up this horrendous, massive & financial, personal & debiliatative fraud.

I wish him many more and thank him!

Mar. 09 2010 02:32 PM
Paul from Orange, NJ

oops I meant "ingenuous" not disingenuous.

Mar. 09 2010 02:03 PM
Paul from Orange, NJ

Mr. Markopolos' remark about doing undercover work seems somewhat disingenuous since his picture is on Amazon and that he appeared on the Daily Show last night. It might be best to get these guys at the end of their book tours (especially if it is their first) rather than the beginning seeing as how he was a little breathless and had memorized or been coached to hammer certain talking points. See his 5 minutes with John Stewart and listen to Leonard's interview again.

Mar. 09 2010 01:56 PM
pemfan from New York

I enjoyed the interview and it made me very interested to read his book, but I too felt that Mr. Markopolos came off like an anti-semite with that remark about Spitzer's not wanting to bother with Madoff because they are both Jewish. Inappropriate and off the mark!

Mar. 09 2010 01:19 PM

Taher from Croton on Hudson says:
Nobody wants to talk about the ethnic part to the Madoff rip off. He played the I am a “lunsman” game with Jewish investors who fell for it.

The kicker is Ole' Lenny will always find a way to work the ethnic Jewish aspect into any subject:
Paris floods from 100 years back ,ah, yes AntiSemitism rife in France,yes the Alfred Dreyfus spy trial....

Mar. 09 2010 12:54 PM
Nancy Duggan from Morristown, NJ

Jgarbuz is so right on with that question: why ISN'T Markopolos the SEC chairman? The Obama administration should pay him millions a year to watch over these professional thieves.

Mar. 09 2010 12:47 PM
benito from Harlem

Markopolis seems like a big liar / self-promoter.

On the amazon page he writes "I knew he was a fraudster in 5 minutes"

That's not what he told Leonard.

Get your story straight - dude!

If you're going to make a career out of busting fraud - don't be a fraudster/huckster yourself!

Mar. 09 2010 12:46 PM
bh from nyc

You mean that there might be some anti-semitism because he said Eliot Spitzer didn't pursue it because he's a Jew?

Mar. 09 2010 12:40 PM
Chaa Yah

Taher/9 -- NObody want to talk about Madoff being an ethnic Jew? For many, including, that fact MAKES it a story.

Nah, what nobody seems to want to talk about is that Madoff is in jail now b/c he finally stopped waiting to get caught ... and turned himself in!

Mar. 09 2010 12:38 PM
Jgarbuz from Queens, NY

Why isn't THIS guy the chairman of the SEC? That's what I want know.

Mar. 09 2010 12:38 PM
Lorne Caplan from New Rochelle, NY

Mr. Markopolos seems to hold average people in contempt suggesting that they are too stupid to understand the basics of Madoff's scheme. More a testament to peoples desire to look the other way, than sophisticated techniques used by Markopolos and his group.

Most telling is his comment that the odious Governor of New York was Jewish and didn't want to go after Madoff which is ridiculous and suggestive of Markopolos' view of the investment community. I suffered the long arm of this double standard as I served 18 months in prison specifically because I was Jewish and my Jewish judge had to use me as an example so as not to appear biased.

This self-important character, Markapolos, is so narcissistic that he suggests he was the only one to raise the savior flag versus the SEC and he himself should be investigated for the methods he uses. Yes, Spitzer was hated on wall street and went after many Jewish bankers on Wall Street, so how can he suggest any connection.

I'm trying very hard to listen to comments about "his team" and his life was threatened and other comments suggesting that Wall St. is a bastion of Jewish back scratching. I know first-hand that people like Markapolos, aren't owed an apology. Sounds like he has political ambitions and I for one will fight to keep him out of public office. "Bored with the life on wall street", wanting to chase bad guys. No more than a bounty hunter. We need to watch our backs when anti-Semitics like this get so much praise.

Mar. 09 2010 12:36 PM

Harry -- so what's next?

Mar. 09 2010 12:35 PM
T. Philipson from Port Washington

While I believe that Madoff was a terrible person and I am glad Markopolis uncovered his fraud and stopped him, I am also sensing an antisemetic undertone in his motives.

Mar. 09 2010 12:33 PM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Nobody wants to talk about the ethnic part to the Madoff rip off. He played the I am a “lunsman” game with Jewish investors who fell for it.

Mar. 09 2010 12:33 PM
bill from jersey city

Didn't the market miss the funds he was "not trading?"

Mar. 09 2010 12:30 PM
ivan from nyc


Mar. 09 2010 12:29 PM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

The Quants are also susceptible to boondoggles and cons. Goldman Sachs has made billions off very sophisticated economic and financial models. The whole program trading industry is essentially quantitative.

Models have their problems. They can be 'fixed.' They can work over a short term and fail over the long term, work at the large scale but fail at the small, etc.

Mar. 09 2010 12:29 PM
Natalie from Park Ave

To the 1st comment, it's not limited to finance.

Whistleblowers get rough treatment all around.

The guy who (tried to) blow the whistle on the Deutsche building that eventually still has problems.

Mar. 09 2010 12:27 PM
Phil Henshaw from ny ny

The problem with walls of communication between different professions is far broader than Harry describes. Competence matters too, but that the languages con't connect is not really a competence issue.

It's not just that no profession learns much about any other, it's that the languages of professions don't connect through the common subject, the natural world. It has to do with the fascinating, if daunting, way they are "all made up" to suite themselves but no one else.

Try "What Wandering Minds Need to Know"

Mar. 09 2010 12:24 PM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

My understanding is that The New York Times and Wall Street Journal also both ignored Markopoulos. (Another great feather in the cap of the Times to go with Iraqi WMD, domestic spying, etc.)

Mar. 09 2010 12:15 PM
Jessica from London, UK

Can you please ask Harry to talk about a few of the accounting tricks he looked for (& found) in investigating the Madoff fund (beyond the oft-mentioned 12% returns)? I’m an accountant myself so I find these details interesting!
Thank you.

Mar. 09 2010 11:37 AM

Questions for Mr. Markopolos:

You stated many times that whistleblowers are blacklisted by the financial services industry.

1. How is it done? Do you have any proof?

2. If you are correct - and I know that you are - does not this show that the entire industry is operating like a criminal organization? Is not this much bigger than Madoff?

3. Do you think that you are blacklisted?

Mar. 09 2010 06:54 AM

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