Bryan NovakEnglish 1-17Paper #4Due: December 15th, 2017Final Paper Vampires are not simply the blood-sucking creatures seen in movies, they are the corrupt people of the world exploiting their inferior victims. Throughout history, the metaphor of resembling a vampire has been used to describe many people. From the homosexuals to the Jews to the French aristocracy, the term “vampire” has been chosen to describe very distinct people. In this day and age, the idea of a vampire has transformed into something people idolize.
The charming Mick Saint John in Moonlight and Edward Cullen in Twilight cause many girls to hang posters up and wear clothes of their favorite “vampire”. On the other hand, people like Bernie Madoff resemble old world vampires more because of their wrongful actions. Bernie Madoff exemplifies the traits of an old world vampire by sucking the life and money out of his clients the way an old world vampire sucks the life and blood out of his victims. Bernard, or more commonly known as Bernie, Madoff was born on April 29, 1938, in Queens, New York. After graduating from Hofstra University, he founded an investment firm called Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC.
Later, Madoff served as the NASDAQ chairman for three one-year terms. Madoff then admitted that a branch of his firm was actually a Ponzi scheme. This is a fraudulent investing scam guaranteeing high rates of return and little risk to investors. A Ponzi scheme generates return for older investors by acquiring new investors. Madoff’s sons reported their father to the federal government, and the next day Madoff was arrested and charged with securities fraud. Madoff admitted to investigators that he had lost $50 billion of his clients’ money. On March 12, 2009, he pleaded guilty to 11 felony counts.
Prosecutors said $170 billion traveled through the Madoff account over many years, and that prior to his arrest the firm’s statements showed $65 billion. On June 29, 2009, the maximum possible prison sentence for the 71-year-old defendant was issued by U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin; he sentenced Madoff to 150 years in prison. Bernie Madoff needed to be secretive and efficient at leaving no trail behind to ensure he did not get caught. One of the main old world traits of a vampire is that they do not cast a shadow or reflection. Vampires are known to be devious creatures; Madoff fits this trait perfectly.
It is not easy to relocate $170 billion for decades and Madoff accomplished this complicated task with ease. Mark Neocleous captures this point perfectly in his article, “The Political Economy of the Dead: Marx’s Vampires”: “There were stock-jobbers, and men of business, who sucked the blood of the people in broad daylight; but they were not dead, though corrupted. These true suckers lived not in cemeteries, but in very agreeable places”(677). Here, Neocleous goes into detail about how difficult it was to spot a vampire in broad daylight. Madoff was just a common man, or a man of business, working amongst everyone else in his investment firm. However, he was slowly sucking the money and life out of his clients without any remorse. The Ponzi scheme Madoff developed worked for decades due to his enigmatic personality.
One could say he had “special powers” to manipulate his victims into believing they were going to receive their money. Bernie Madoff presented to all his clients a trust he never had in the first place, allowing his clients to fall into a secret trap everytime. Bernie Madoff is said to have the magic touch as an intelligent investor, constantly manipulating new clients into trusting his elaborate plan. Different vampires have been known to have special powers that come along with their blood-sucking ability.
Vampires possess special powers that can be some of the following: super strength, super speed, shapeshifting, the ability to fly, regenerative healing ability, hypnosis, and many more. From the start of his investment firm, Madoff had been considered an elite investor. However, his superb ability brought about unpleasant talents.
Madoff was very good at lying to his clients and creating a bond with them that allowed for ultimate trust. Without lying, his Ponzi scheme would have never worked because the whole backbone of his plan was lying about his numbers and make believing that his clients would be receiving more money in the end. Besides lying with no regret, Madoff was very intelligent and adequate at running his own investment firm. All vampires have some sort of special power they possess, it just depends on what is most useful for them to receive the most blood from their victims; Madoff resorted to manipulation and his exceptional intelligence to suck the money from his innocent clients. All of Bernie Madoff’s crimes would not have been possible without the social passage into the Jewish community; he exploited their cultural network and their identities to rip them off.
In fact, Bernie Madoff was born to Jewish parents, Ralph Madoff and Sylvia Muntner, which gave him an advantage when dealing with Jewish communities and clients. His religion gave him an in-group status into seizing investments from Jewish individuals and institutions. One of the most corrupt and horrifying deals he accomplished was stealing money from Hadassah.
Hadassah, a volunteer American Jewish women’s organization, fundraises community programs and health initiatives in Israel. To engage with Hadassah and other Jewish charitable organizations shows the villainous personality and old world vampire mentality within Bernie Madoff. To put this into perspective, a theft of this nature would be equivalent to taking money from your old grandmother. The type of people who would do such a thing is an evil vampire.
There has been an exponential growth in Jewish wealth, specifically within Wall Street and finance; Madoff observed this and took advantage of the opportunity to exploit them. Similar to old world vampires, Madoff symbolizes a desire to take advantage of the vulnerable.Historically, persecuted groups of people and outsiders, such as the Jews, have been labeled as vampires. Vampires were symbolic of any persecuted group, and urban legends about them became more popular around images the culture represented.
Thus, enslaved Jews, being social outsiders, became the perfect use for the symbol of a vampire. It is interesting that Bernie Madoff would prey upon Jews and Jewish charitable organizations for their money because of all the other wealthy organizations at his fingertips. The concept of the Jewish community’s money being taken viciously by Madoff’s scheme parallels that of the birth of a vampire. In many vampiric movies, shows, and books, a vampire is born by sucking the blood from the neck of the victim. Similarly, Madoff sucked the money out of Jewish individuals and institutions, causing them to become vampires. Jews have been symbolic of vampires and it is not a coincidence that Bernie Madoff and all his victims were Jewish.
Madoff’s main targets of exploitation were his friends and family, clearly displaying his diabolical road to success. Nobody would have speculated Madoff to commit such a crime because he always dealt with his friends, family, and charitable organizations. No one in their right mind would attempt to steal money from their own family, especially when his two sons worked for him. Other’s preconceptions of familial loyalty allowed Madoff to commit these wrongful actions over and over, slowly sucking all the money out of his sons without anyone realizing. In the end, it was not the random individuals or the charitable organizations that figured out the root of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, it was his own family. In fact, it was his two sons, Andrew and Mark Madoff, who turned him into the federal authorities.
Bernie Madoff’s crimes hurt all his innocent victims and his family more than anyone could imagine. Shortly after Bernie Madoff was sentenced to prison, Mark Madoff took his own life by hanging himself with a dog leash because of his disgraced father’s $65 billion legacy. Then, Andrew Madoff died after years of cancer. Eventually, Bernie Madoff “died”, or went to prison for life, just like all vampires do. It just differs between vampires on how they reach this destination and Bernie Madoff could only be killed by his own victims, especially his family. There must be new clients, or victims, supplying Bernie Madoff with more money to continue his Ponzi scheme. Vampires have been considered to be notably very wealthy creatures. The $50 billion that was lost makes it is the largest fraud in history— developing a great deal of attention and fame to Bernie Madoff.
Throughout his whole Ponzi scheme, Madoff thrived off the money of a new investor, or victim. Mark Neocleous makes this point evident in his article: “The vampire metaphor is dead and yet not dead: he or she is ‘undead’ in the sense of being a ‘dead’ person who manages to live thanks to the sensuousness of the living. In being brought back to life in this way the vampire/ commodity comes to rule—through a powerful dialectic of fear and desire”(684). Similar to old world vampires, Bernie Madoff needs a victim to continue his prospering business. Madoff desires new money and new victims because this is the only way his Ponzi scheme can flourish. He lives his life through collecting money and sucking it out of as many people as he can. Old world vampires thrived off sucking the blood out of different people they encountered.
The investment firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC, holds a very high reputation and elite status. This intimated people in some ways and Madoff was the leader dealing out this horror. Thus, Madoff lives this same evil lifestyle as old world vampires. As a functioning vampire, society believed Bernie Madoff was just a wealthy man who ran an elite investment firm like all of the other famous wealthy people of the world. However, it was about time society noticed the real personality of Madoff. After his two sons reported him to the police, society began to second-guess themselves about wealthy people around the world and think about the corruption occurring in other areas.
The cultural fear of our hierarchy consisting of corruption has been amplified from the Madoff scandal. No one exactly knows what Madoff was planning to do with all the money he stole, but obviously it was not for the good of our country. In today’s media, the name Bernie Madoff is directly correlated to a fraudster and a malicious man. The Madoff scandal created a chain reaction throughout the world’s business and charitable organizations. It forced many organizations to, at minimum, temporarily close, such as Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation, the Picower Foundation, and the JEHT Foundation.
Bernie Madoff will go down in history as a corrupt businessman who created the largest Ponzi scheme to date. The traits of a vampire and resemblance to exploiting his victims directly relates to the characteristic and acts of a vampire. Madoff represents something bigger than a scandal. His ability to deceive and exploit warns the entire business world of the deathly actions that a vampire, or people similar to Bernie Madoff, can commit. Seeking out the vulnerable and taking advantage of their ignorance is how a vampire thrives and gains power.
Madoff is an example of this phenomenon in his journey to financial power that ultimately led to his demise. The vampire, despite what is known of the fictional creature, is in fact mortal, meaning, their devious acts will eventually catch up with them and the vampire will “die”. The fraudulence of Bernie Madoff parallels the blood-sucking nature of a vampire, who fed off of innocent groups, including his friends, family, and respective Jews, in order to gain financial power and prominence in the United States.