scenes from a meltdown

Long Island Has Its Own Junior-Varsity Madoff

There are several reports out today comparing Nicholas Cosmo, a Long Island fraudster, to Bernie Madoff. And while it’s true that both men swindled trusting investors out of money in a basic Ponzi scheme, we have to point out that the similarities seem to end there. Let’s match the two up, shall we?

How much they lost: Bernie Madoff’s firm, at the end of his run, had roughly $50 billion in liabilities. Cosmo apparently lost an estimated $130 million.
Who invested: Madoff “invested” the billions on behalf of international banks, huge retirement funds, and dozens of charities (some of which were forced to shutter). Cosmo mostly took advantage of New York–area small businesses and families.

Their respective backgrounds: A respected investor since 1960, Madoff was a former NASDAQ chairman. Less than a decade ago, Cosmo was serving 21 months after pleading guilty to a federal charge of misappropriating funds.
Why people trusted them: In Madoff’s case, see above. Also because he had a proven, long-term track record of steady returns and his paperwork and SEC filings checked out okay. As for Cosmo, it’s unclear why anyone trusted him beyond the promise of cash. “None of us have anything in writing,” said retiree Alice Rosenberg of Long Beach, who, with her husband, Lance, put $1 million into Agape over a year and a half. According to the Post, nobody had any paperwork from Cosmo whatsoever.

Come on, Long Island. This is nothing to brag about, but in terms of evil genius, your guy has nothing on ours.

L.I. has its very own ‘Madoff,’ feds charge [NYDN]

Long Island Has Its Own Junior-Varsity Madoff