June 18, 2013

Bernie Madoff perpetrated one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, with losses totaling between $50 and $65 billion. He was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 150 years in prison.

In a recent interview from prison, Madoff shared how not to be taken in by a Ponzi scheme. When asked where investors should put their money “with the least amount of risk for fraud,” Madoff answered:

“The best chance for the average investor is to put money in an index fund. There are lower commission rates and more professional management with these types of firms. It’s the safest and least likely place to get scammed.”

He went on to say:

“If you want to hold money with brokerage firms, go with major public firms. Chances are they will go with proper procedures and proper compliance. If regulators were checking my firm, they would have caught me sooner. This way you can avoid the mistake of putting your money at risk. Or, put your money in mutual funds, which are large enough to protect investors.”

And you might be surprised at how many Ponzi schemes have been shut down in the past five years just in the United States. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has a special section that lists “examples of SEC enforcement actions against Ponzi schemes.” The examples make for interesting reading, and they reinforce the fact that Ponzi schemes are still thriving.

Thus the Thrift Savings Plan, which features only index funds, is a great way to invest in stock and bond markets without getting scammed by fraudulent investment operations like Ponzi schemes. Index funds offered by major brokerage companies – for investing Roth IRA or HSA funds, for example – also offer protection from Ponzi scammers.

Related topics: investing-styles hsa