Bernard Madoff, the former financier who masterminded the biggest investment fraud in U.S. history, has died aged 82, media reports say.
A pyramid, or Ponzi, scheme is a form of fraud in which returns on investments are generated only by bringing in fresh investments from new victims.
Madoff's fraud was revealed during the financial crisis in 2008, when he was unable to satisfy growing client demands to withdraw their investments, and many lost their savings or were unable to retire.
School teachers, farmers, mechanics and many others have also lost money.
In court, Mr Madoff said when he started the scheme in the 1990s, he hoped it would only be for a limited time.
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Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies in 2019, admitting his conduct "was wrong, indeed criminal", and received a maximum sentence of 150 years in prison. "However, this proved hard, and ultimately impossible, and as the years went by I realised that my arrest and this day would eventually come". Only a fraction has ever been recovered.
Madoff was serving a 150-year prison sentence and had asked for early release in February 2020, saying that he had less than 18 months to live after entering the final stages of kidney disease and that he had been admitted to palliative care. In an interview with The Washington Post he said he had "made a bad mistake".
"I've served 11 years already, and, quite frankly, I've suffered through it", Madoff told the paper in an interview at the time.
"I also believe that Mr. Madoff was never truly remorseful, and that he was only sorry that his life as he knew it was collapsing around him", he wrote.