[Stanford Financial] had a major office in Miami - the doorway to Latin American money - that was staffed by curiously few people.
"It didn't look like a typical brokerage office," said one insider about the Miami operation. "There was nobody in the office."
The company did have about 40 hard-working and apparently totally legit analysts toiling out of a Boca Raton office.
And it paid its salespeople very well, reportedly between 1 percent and 2 percent of the investments they brought in.
So well, in fact, that some of the salespeople seemed embarrassed by their riches.
My insider remembers a time when the company held a party for its biggest producers and a list of their monetary accomplishments had been printed for distribution.
The salespeople got so flustered by the transparency that all 1,000 copies of the list were burned before the meeting could go on.
Another time the heads of Stanford Group's divisions were told to nominate someone for the company's annual $10,000 prize.
Six finalists were told to stand among the crowd of their co-workers at an annual meeting and Stanford himself walked among them game-show style before tapping the winner on the shoulder.
"It was like pulling wings off a fly," said someone who was there.