For twenty or so years, depending on when you believe The Legitimate Years stopped and The Illegitimate Years started, Bernie Madoff ran a massive Ponzi scheme, ripping off thousands of clients of billions of dollars. But screwing over people and leaving many of them with nothing was not all Madoff accomplished in that time. He also taught his employees the finer art of fraud and, according to prosecutors, the five students currently on trial learned a thing or two under The Professor.

Such as, which fonts scream scam and which say, upstanding, completely legit money manager:

In some instances, the defendants used special types of paper, obsessed over type fonts and had extensive conversations about how an asterisk should look in order to make bogus forms appear legitimate, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Schwartz said during his 90-minute opening statement.

And how to falsify documents* when you’re in a race against the clock:

The prosecutor alleged the defendants went to absurd lengths to cover their tracks. He told an anecdote about how in the middle of an audit, O’Hara, Perez and Krupi needed to quickly cook up a fake document. After pulling the document hot off the printer, they put it in a refrigerator to cool it off and tossed it around to make it look older before handing it over to auditors waiting in a conference room at Madoff’s firm, he said.

Obviously it’s nowhere near beyond the bounds of possibility that the above was a real-time pop-quiz Madoff put his employees through in order to see how they would apply what they learned in class in a real world situation, and how they would operate on the fly.

Defense: Madoff Kept Employees In Dark About Fraud [AP]
Madoff Employees Lied, Prosecutor Says at Trial [WSJ]

*This anecdote has been strangely edited from the original AP story.

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Comments (7)

  1. Posted by guest | October 17, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Can we get a ruling on comic sans?

  2. Posted by Guest | October 17, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Even that they couldn't get right. To make papers look old, you're supposed to put it in the oven, not the fridge.

  3. Posted by AnOn | October 17, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    We were going the fridge route too, explains why we got cought.


  4. Posted by quant me maybe... | October 18, 2013 at 7:22 AM

    We've found using vellum works just as well. Cuneiform tablets were a dead giveaway. Apparently only HR still uses clay.

  5. Posted by Albert | October 18, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    Going the literal route cooking the books, eh?

  6. Posted by Guest | October 18, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    Follow @1stworldanalyst

  7. Posted by guest | October 21, 2013 at 1:40 AM

    Dimon is a smarter Madoff