CHAPTER 1Who’s in Charge of My Wealth, Inc.?

Overheard inside an online forum for investors:

Investor #1: “Has anyone invested with Bernie Madoff? I have many friends and also know charitable organizations who invest with him. Thanks in advance for your view.”

Investor #2: “My father invested with him a long time ago, and we are very happy. His returns are fantastic—our very best hedge fund!”

Investor #3: “I know his reputation is earning great steady returns, but we just could not get comfortable with how he makes money, and thus we took a pass.”

Eight years after that exchange online, I received a call from investor #1 thanking me. Bernie Madoff had been arrested three months earlier. This investor told me his ultimate decision not to invest was based on this dialogue. He knew he needed to look beyond one fellow member’s recommendation, and said he recalled part of due diligence was: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”

But not every investor was as fortunate as this one. In fact, many very smart investors invested with Bernie Madoff because they thought they could rely on others to perform the basic due diligence. Now, you may be moaning out loud: “I don’t want to do due diligence!” Or: ...

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