I Am a Madoff Victim

This has been the hardest blog post for me to do. When I vlogged about my miscarriage that was challenging, but this has other layers to it. By revealing about how we were robbed, how we are part of possibly the largest financial fraud in US History, I am not only disclosing my own life, but the life of my family. I didn’t blog about this before for many reasons. Chief was absolute shock. Then, it was too painful to discuss except with very close friends. I still have some friends I haven’t told. Sometimes it exhausts me too much to do so. Then when I wanted to blog about it, my husband didn’t want me too. I think like anyone who has either been in mourning or been the victim of a crime there are the stages you go through. For me this was both. We were robbed. Someone sits in jail right now because of what has happened to us and thousands of others. And it has altered the trajectory of my life. Many assumptions that I made are no longer valid. To have a secure retirement gave me a buoyancy I no longer possess. I would like that back.

I also didn’t want to blog about it if it was just for me to vent. I didn’t start this online adventure to be a Dear Diary, but I have been touched by comments that some of you have made on this site about your own struggles with the economy. So, I thought maybe by doing this we could help each other through a historical low. One of my initial reactions when we heard that our money was gone was to beat myself up… and my husband. We should have been more diversified ( we were, but not enough), we should have done this or that. And it did help when we realized that we were not part of a small fund like we had been led to believe, but a world wide one where people more savvy or richer than us were also robbed. Mort Zuckerman, Kevin Bacon, Steven Spielberg. And also better people than us, Elie Wiesel (who steals from Holocaust survivors?!)  I also started to hear from friends and neighbors how they too thought they might need to sell their house or move in with relatives, and it was for other reasons than our own, a real estate deal gone south, unemployment.

So, going forward I’m in a sense catching you all up with what I have been personally struggling with for the last 6 months. There is so much to say about this. But I’m still going to have some funny blogs and funny videos, because my whole life comedy has meant a great deal to me. It is healing (remind me to tell you about doing improv for chronic pain patients), and it has dictated my entire career to me. And like the saying goes, tragedy plus time equals comedy.

Have you heard about the pregnant lady who found out she had been robbed? Ah, yeah, not funny yet.

51 thoughts on “I Am a Madoff Victim

  1. daphne, i’ve been watching/reading your stuff for a while now and i’ve never thought of posting a comment or something. that post though, it really touched me. i feel for you and i am 100% sure you will figure it out, you will be alright. you’re so savy and you’ve got so much spunk: you rock.

  2. Oh, man. I don’t even know what to say. I’m so sorry. I don’t have any savings, so the only thing I’ve lost in this recession is my job. But I think, or know, that losing what I had worked for, and depended on, for many years, is far worse than not having it to begin with. You will be in my thoughts and prayers as you go through this tough time.

  3. Hi Daphne,

    I’ve been watching your vlogs for a long time now, and I am so sorry to hear about your having to sell your house. Over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that I crave financial security (something my husband and I do not have yet), and having the rug yanked out from underneath you so viciously is a tragedy.

    However, you and your husband seem to be savvy, immensely talented individuals, and I have no doubt that this setback will not hold you hostage for long.

    A year ago, my husband lost his job and we would up having to borrow money from our parents and found ourselves selling just about everything we owned to pay rent. As I watched the clerk at Half-Price Books flip through all my beloved novels and attach paltry values to them, I was certain I would never recover from the shame and the sheer injustice of it.

    My husband got a new job three months ago, and it is far better than his last. We can now afford doctor’s visits and trips to the grocery store and even new books.

    Believe me, I know that in the midst of a crisis the last thing anyone wants is self-righteous advice from a stranger in the comments section of your blog, so I won’t add that burden to your situation. I just hope the mourning period doesn’t last long and that good things start to come your way in the near future.

    By the way, Rex is absolutely darling.

  4. I’m so sorry to hear that you were robbed like that. What a horrible thing to have to go through.
    And I can only imagine it must be a feeling of violation. That someone could steal what you’ve all worked so hard for, and to steal from the futures of your children.

    Jail just doesn’t seem enough for what that man has put so many people through.

    I hope you’ll end up loving your new house as much as your current one, and that things start to look a bit brighter after your move. That little baby of yours is a gorgeous ray of hope in this difficult time I’m sure!

  5. Oh, gosh: that last line. You are funny yet. Do you know that humor is what saves me? Yup. People ask me how I can laugh and I ask back, “how can you not?” I would never EVER joke about a seriously ill child, death in a family, but this: it’s only our money and house and …blah blah blah.

    Yup: you have a story about the funny lady gone broke and I have a story about the stay at home mom who is now gone more from home than the husband seeking employment.

    This stuff is funny. What’s important is that our 3 sons are healthy (your Rex recovered, thank God) and your husband is employed and you’re still yummy mummy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The one mom in the school pick up line that the dads have little flashes of fantasy about.

    So, that makes it alllllllll gooooood….

    Good luck, you will emerge wiser. As they say, What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger (but, it does feel like it’ll kill you sometime…)

    The most interesting people I”ve met are the ones with stories. The ones I’ve met without stories, I can’t even remember.

  6. Hey, I love you, Daphne honey. Our house is going up for sale, too.

    It’s only life, and I think of all the people I know that would trade my problems right now. Especially the woman I know whose child went in with pneumonia one month ago, and never came home. She’d love to just be having to sell her house.

    Doesn’t make things easier or better for us in this situation, but it gives perspective.

    Perspective, and hope, and remembering that things will right themselves.

    I know, we’ve had to take all our stuff to half price books and sell. And pull the kids out of private school, and I’m working nights and weekends now, and am not at home and missing their soccer games and science fairs and things.

    And seeing the worry on my husband’s face. And having to sell and move in with my husband’s family. At our age with 3 kids. That’s why we need perspective: only money. Money, not lives.

    Just think of how you have Mark, Rex, Viv and rise up to meet the challenge. Seriously, you are going to be one ass-kickin’ mama after all this.

    A lesser woman would’ve crumbled, but you will meet this with grace and indomnability. Cuz I know you.

  7. Daphne – I am so sorry! This economy sucks and most of us are feeling it one way or another but I am so sorry to hear that you’ve been one of the ones so unfairly taken advantage of by this fraud. 🙁 I agree, though, that you and your husband seem extremely intelligent and resourceful and will triumph.

    side note … Viv’s hair is adorable … love little girls with bobs!

  8. Im so sorry. All I can say is you are awesome and if anyone can pull through, it is someone with your spirit. Keep on truckin girl!

  9. Sorry to stalk you, but I keep thinking of all the stuff the recession has caused for us.

    Like my 12 yr old crying and saying he’s scared b/c we had to disconnect cable. And the 6 yr old asking me this morning if I’d be selling all his toys, or could he keep just some of them?

    ANd the 14 yr old telling me he could get a job to help with bills.

    I’m learning that answering them with a smile on my face and a tight hug goes a looooooooooong way in easing their anxiety.

    So sorry to hear about you..but I get the strong feeling you will make this work for you.

  10. Daphne,

    I am sorry you’re having to go through this. It sucks. It sucks because you feel like your doing for your family the way you’re suppose to then some asshat goes off and fucks a bunch of peoples lives over.

    He’ll get what he deserves. I think there’s a nice place in hell for people like him.

    Hang in there. You’re an amazing Mom/Wife and a funny gal. If you can’t laugh you’ll cry, right? But don’t forget, it’s okay to cry, too.


  11. Oh I’m so sorry. I’m crying at my desk for you. I’m on the verge of throwing up most days worrying about money as my husband has been out of work since July and I make below poverty level for a family of three. I worry about our 14 month old son. We have no savings. No college account for him. I worry about our only car getting repoed. How we make it month to month is nothing short of a miracle. Honestly.

    Having these worries and thinking about future dreams being broken isn’t something anyone should have to dwell on. The ONLY thing, like you mentioned, that keeps me going is that we’re not the only ones in this situation. We’re not broke because we spent all our money on lavish things–we’re broke because of circumstances beyond our control. And we’re all going to support each other and help each other out because that’s how we will dust ourselves off and get back up again.

    Stay strong–we’re all in this together!

  12. My heart breaks for you, all.
    My husband had a massive amount of MSFT stock that he didn’t know he had to reinvest within a certain time when he left them years ago. We lost $450,000. Makes me want to throw up every time I think about it. I know you probably lost more, but if it was only $100 and that’s all you had it would hurt.

    Wishing you all the best.

  13. You are beautiful and clever and talented. You have a wonderful, loving family. We all love you! We laugh with you weekly. We admire you and aspire to be as gracious, fun, witty, and inspirational as you!

    All our best wishes and thoughts!

  14. Daphne, we too are going through unknown waters. I am sending you all of the love I can muster. It will be better, I keep telling myself that. We will come out of this ok, and survive.

    Chin up.

  15. I am new to your site, but I had to comment…Three years ago, my husband had a hostile takeover of his company. It left him/us wiped out…We, like you, made the hard (that word doesn’t even begin to cover it) decision to sell our house.

    I thought long and hard about the unfairness of life…and the conclusion I came to is that sometimes, life can suck:P

    What I wanted to tell you is…three years, and two rental condo’s later…I am standing in our lovely town home that we own. Husband has a good job, and we are on the way back up! Losing a fortune, through no fault of your own just plain sucks…but you do go up again. You. Do. Go. Up:)

  16. Daphne,

    I just recently discovered your blog and it’s my daily treat to log on and see what you’re up to. I was so sad to hear what happened to you. It makes me sick to my stomach to see what’s happening with this economy. I’m sure it was especially tough to go through that while pregnant. I think you have a great attitude and it sounds like you are a very strong person so I am sure you will come out of this even stronger!

    Hang in there and thanks for sharing your story. I am sure a lot of people can relate and we are ALL struggling in some way.


  17. i’m smiling and teary at the warm, and inspiring comments you are all making.
    Nap, thank you for sharing that story… good for you for going on . Alexander, breaks my heart to hear of your kids being scared. kind of glad that my kids are young, and my step kids are old enough to have maturity to handle it. it took me 6 months to share this because it was a major rug that was pulled..overnight, but i know so many are far worse off. we know fellow Madoff folk who are elderly, have nothing and slim no time to make the money they ost and lived on.
    when we were in the ER with Rex waiting for his spinal tap I looked at Mark and said, ” I thought after this Mdoff thing we would get a free pass for a while.” Thankfully, we ultimately did. Not that I needed to be reminded but the crooks can take my house and any other THING as long as I have my babies. Sometimes when I feel the blues coming to get me I stare long and hard at Rex or watch Vivien play and I’m a lot better.

  18. Daphne,
    Thank you for sharing this! It is these things that are life changing, sometimes good sometimes not go good, that show what we are made of. You and your husband are a strong team and together as long as you have your family you will be able to get back up. It’s not easy, which is why I’m thankful that you shared but I think especially after reading your last two lines of your last post here that you will make it! Hug your babies extra tight!

  19. Wow, Daphne… I’m so sorry. As all the other commenters have said, I’m sure that you and your lovely family are strong enough to pull through all this.
    Man, seeing you cry… It set me off too. Your warmth and humour make me smile whenever I watch one of your vlogs, and I think you should be proud of yourself that you have managed to retain those qualities in such hard times.
    Thinking of you.

  20. That is just horrible, Daphne. I really hate that happened to you. What a no good CREEP! I used to work in Financial Planning (pre-mommy), and we had a lot of people come to us after a catastrophic losses like yours (usually because of poor investments, not crime), You CAN bounce back from this, it is possible. It’ll take some planning and some budgeting, but you can do it. You have a lot of time and the market will rebound. God bless your little family.

  21. Daphne, I have been watching your momversation episodes after finding you through Heather’s dooce.com site. You always appear to be such a strong, humourous and capable woman- I would never believe you have lost so much, especially at such a crucial time.
    My thoughts are with you, and I wish you, your family and every other victim all the best.

  22. Im sorry Im sorry, Im so so sorry.
    is unthinkable what happen. Is so unfair. Im sorry that happen, especially during you pregnancy, Im sorry that happen at all.

    I hope the best for you, Mark and the kids. You will go survive and you will grow from this.

    Thinking of you

  23. PD. Please delete my comment about it “no drinking during pregnancy” you completely deserve that cup of wine back them (and now too!)

  24. Uggh. So very sorry to hear of this burden you have been dealing with and during your pregancy no less. You have surely been very brave in the face of it and I know that your healthy perspective will carry you and the family through. Viv will speak of you with awe in later years when she understands all this and the graceful way you have managed it.

    We have all been touched by this financial tsunami. Just found out that husband will be jobless come July. Good times. We have been down this road before but now we have 2 kids and I am working only freelance. So we are refinancing and cutting all unnecessary expenses. I keep saying “Its not cancer. No one we love is leaving us. We are smart people and good savers and we will survive.” As will you. (But damn that Madoff creep!)

  25. Daphne,
    I am crying for you…with you. This absolutely broke my heart. I’m so sorry. I’m sending out love and hugs to you and your family!

  26. Oh, Daph. Man, now I’m crying.

    It is so important that you did this. The more often we, as a culture, can put a face on the financial disaster, the better. People need to see that they are not alone, and that somehow we will all make it through this.

    I don’t know how, but we will. Because, as you said, we have to.

    If you guys ever want a cheapie getaway, I have a condo on the market in Chicago – right downtown – that is sitting, staged for a sell, languishing on the ridiculous real estate market. You’re welcome to pop in whenever you want. 🙂

    Take care.

  27. Hi Daphne,

    I am so sorry to hear your horrible news. How hard ‘getting over’ (if one ever truly does) this violation must be for you and every one else affected by the scale of havoc this man (and I use that word loosely) has wreaked upon peoples’ lives. The degree of evil defies belief.

    I only hope that knowing so many others have the identical struggle will comfort you to a small extent. That,and the passage of time easing the pain a little.

    On a separate topic:

    [ I missed that Rex had had a spinal tap! I hope your sweet boy is doing well now! (He certainly looks the picture of health). I wanted to tell you that we went through the identical circumstance when Kiera,our youngest, was 1 day old! Yikes! I almost swallowed my tongue when the pediatrician said, ” She’ll have to be readmitted for a full septic workup,including a lumbar puncture “. O.M.G…. A newborn! What a scary time…

    I’m sending you a virtual hug,dear – you’ve had a lot on your plate! 🙂


  28. Wrote a long heartfelt comment which was deleted. Short version: so very sorry, a terrible situation. Your kids will appreciate your strength and balance in later years so stay strong!

    We are also facing unemployment and depleted savings. Not what we planned! So you are not alone! But no one is dying and we all still love each other so this too shall pass.

  29. Daphne, I have been watching your coolmom and momversation podcasts for a while now, and I think you are wonderful. I just watched/listened to this podcast a few minutes ago and went straight to the computer to tell you that I am so sorry you were victimized like that. You are not alone, and I am sending only good thoughts your way. Wishing you and your family the best!

  30. Daphne,

    You have been a source of joy for me in these past few troubled months. Going through these traumatic drastic changes in life hurt. They hurt a lot. What I can say from my own place of pain is you have to make that decision to carry on. Your family needs you to. It is amazing what you can do when you refocus for you and your family’s survival.

    Its a nice way to bust your troubles in the a&$!

  31. such guts you all have. Thank you for sending my family your best and I send it right back!
    Stanz reading what you wrote that Viv will speak well of me years from now on how I coped made me tear up. Bless you. When we first got the bad news I pictured Rex years from now in his 20’s on a date with a girl saying “yeah, well, my dad did have some money, but they lost it all right before I was born.” And he would have this stigma of parents who blew it for him.
    I do see the future could be rosier than that and I do think we did the best with what we knew. Obviously, I dearly wish we had made other choices. But, when I dropped my wallet in the street a year ago did someone steal it? No, a lady went through it and found my business card, she called me and handed it all back to me. Humans are careless and our humanity dictates we don’t take advantage of them.
    Latina mama, honestly I understand… at the time I wanted to tell you, “but I really need this wine right now”. 🙂

  32. Thank you for sharing… I cannot imagine what you are going through… it must be so frustrating to work so hard, do the right things, and have someone just take it all away like that. I am sorry you have to leave your home, but know you can make your new home a special place where you and your beautiful family will make many happy memories together!


  33. I have a story for you…

    There once was a woman who wanted to go to Italy, she hoped and dreamed about it, she studied Italian, and scrimped and saved for years. Finally, she had saved enough and she bought a ticket to Rome, Italy. Her dreams had come true.

    When the plane landed, the flight attendant said, “Welcome to Amsterdam!” Amsterdam?! She was gong to Italy- she walked off of the plane in a disappointed daze and fog, she stumbled around for days. Amsterdam? But, Italy was my dream.

    And then she looked around. Amsterdam was beautiful! Sure, she didn’t speak the language, or know anything about the culture, but she was capable. She could learn. She discovered, that although she wanted to go to Italy, Amsterdam, with all of its differences, was wonderful too.

    I’m so sorry for your difficulties, I hope this didn’t seem trite, because nothing sucks worse that having the rug ripped out from under you. Good luck, you’re a good person, and you have the power to make good things come your way. Amsterdam may not be so bad after all.

    My thoughts are with you and your family. Missey

  34. It’s not as warm as Italy, but I do like Amsterdam as well…but I’ll stay out of the hash bars till my kids are grown. 🙂
    Thanks for the tale!

  35. The day my parents married their house burned down. they lost everything [they did not have all that much to begin with]. So they just had a tea-party for close friends. They started from scratch and they have a comfortable retirement plan today. They had to make a lot of compromises but things change with time. Things get better , then worse, then better and its all a cycle. So hang in there, its not like you will never live in your dream house …it is just that it is going to take longer ..same goes for the retirement plan. You will be financially strong some day – the difference is that it will not be as soon as you expect.

    In India – recession is bad but it has yet to reach the extent that it has in the US. However – there are still loads of people without jobs right now, qualified, experienced with loans and dreams. Gone in a second. It has affected us personally too. I keep repeating to myself that things will get better. Life is a series of ups and down and things cannot be bad forever. I have a loving family and that is what matters more than anything else.

  36. I feel for you and am in a similar boat. At no point did I ever think my assets would be illiquid (we have taken mortages out to buy rental properties) but we’re in the position of moving from our home and community to an unfinished house we own 2.5 hrs north of us so we can get rental income to pay the mortgage. Our family of 4 will move into a 400 sq foot studio apartment and will “pick off” finishing the rest of the 2,700 sq ft house with cash-out-of-pocket (and we don’t make that much).

    My 7 and 9 year old daughters are looking forward to the adventure as we promised them their own room and a goat. They got the goats early and now can play with Jellybean, Willow, Snickers and Teaspoon instead of the friends they’ve known since they were born.

    Silver lining, adventures, all that. Since happiness is a state of mind we’re going to be stoked we have a home of our own and have time to rebound.

    Many blessings to you for the joy you spread with your vlog.

  37. it’s great to everyones’s stories! It reminds me of one of my favorite myths of life. That we think everyone else is on the town, or having friends over and we are the only slob on a couch. but, truth it most of us are watching Tv alone. So for various reason a lot of people feel like they just got kicked in the gut do to the downturn.
    Are the goats going to fit in the studio apartment?

  38. Hi Daphne, I just wanted you to know that I feel your pain too. Please know that life is not what we plan. It is what happens.
    You are so very blessed to have your children and I love you!

  39. Hi Daphne,
    I am watching your vlog in tears. I am sorry for what you and your family are going through. We have all become victims during this economic crisis. I own my own small business, 5+ years, and barely have my head above water.

    Thank you for your honesty. Wish you luck!


  40. Daphne – I haven’t been on your site for about a month because I was preparing for childbirth, and now parenting a 2 week old and 3.3 yr old. Such a blessing, and so challenging!! I have spent all morning on your site, catching up on everything i’ve missed. . . and this vlog broke my heart. I think seeing you so emotionally affected was incredibly moving to the many of us who have gotton succor from you over time, and come to rely on your insouciant brand of humor.

    I can totally relate to the topic – I am a lawyer, and after 4 years with my firm, was told (while pregnant) that I should probably look for a new gig when I come back from maternity because partnership wasn’t in the cards. I earn 3x what my husband earns, and am in a total state of denial at the moment about what’s going to happen to us if I can’t find another comperable gig. I’d even settle for a 50% pay cut if I could find meaningful employment again…it’s terrifying, and I imagine the same “out of control” feeling many experience who are dependent on their partner for their primary income. When hard times hit, you just never know how you will weather the storm. You just have to try to make smart decisions (like sounds like you and Mark did about downsizing) and have some kind of “faith” (in yourselves, in the resilience of the economy, in karma…whatever) that the tides will turn.

    Hang in there Daphne, and please know that many of us feel your pain sistah!!


  41. I think from the outside looking in, sometimes its easy to say things like “As long as you have your health”. And though its true, that doesn’t make it easy. I watched my step-father lose a business he built up for over 20 years to a business partner who staged a hostile takeover weeks after the death of my step-grandfather. He was biding his time until the distribution of the company was such that he had enough power to steal the company. I was fresh out of college, but I distinctly remember how dark those times were for my family. I’m so sorry this happened to you Daphne, I admire your strength and courage to do everything you can to bounce back. Keep your focus on your family and you will get through it – even stronger than before.

  42. I am so sorry to read/watch this and had no idea…

    You will get through this, you have a beautiful loving family and THAT is what matters. You are a strong woman Daphne and will be just fine, I just know it.

  43. Pingback: Niceness is the new career trend | Modite

  44. Hey Daphne,

    I lost my job on Wednesday unexpectedly as part of a layoff and I was beside myself. Worried about the mortgage payment, worried about taking my son out of daycare because he loves it and I’m not sure I’m cut out to be a SAHM (even temporarily), worried about having to move/leave the house, etc. The list goes on.

    However, I remembered your post and how I approached your situation and realized I have to take my own advice. I referred back to the video and read all of the comments and I know it sounds cheesy but I feel better. I have to walk the walk….if family and health are important – hey we still have that! So what if we don’t have our house – we’ll get another one.

    Anyway – just wanted to let you know that your candid post helped me to embrace my situation, even more than I expect when I originally replied.

  45. Wow, Daphne. I was just catching up on my podcasts when I saw this one. Of course, I feel for you as all your friends and fans do. But, I wanted to thank you for sharing this. It was obviously hard to do. Seeing you handle such adversity with so much strength and grace is inspiring.

    Oh. And, I wouldn’t worry about your kids. I’m sure they’ll be fine and they’ll find plenty of other ridiculous reasons to resent you. 😉 Sorry, my cranky 16YO daughter makes me cynical.

    Thanks for being awesome and sharing, even when it’s hard.

  46. oh, you all have me in tears again! in a sweet way.
    Jen, I am sorry about your layoff. It’s like a kick in the gut. I never, ever thought I would be one of those people who has to sell their house. Well, I’ve walked through that fire and survived. (Now, I just would rather another shoe NOT drop.)
    And yes, being a SAHM ( took me about a year to figure out what that meant) can a change. But, a friend of mine ( who reads this blog) Stayed at home for over 4 years and just got a good job in this economy! We have to remember that just as our “good” times were temporary, so are the “bad” times.
    LISA, bless your heart, insouciant is one of my favorite words!

  47. I sympathize, sometimes the scam ponzi operators dont get on TV especially the small time crooks like:
    Regenesis2x2 (lost$600 on this one)
    Global resorts Network (lost$2100 on this one)
    Trivita (lost $2500 on this one)

    So people beware of scams and schemes and if it sounds to good and all that…

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