Thursday, May 7, 2009

American Express: The Madoffs Did Not Leave Home Without It


If you've got some down time, you might want to check out some of Bernie Madoff's American Express statements, which are tied to his business platinum card. The statements, which are from last year, paint a picture of just how prolific these Madoffs were (there are a lot of "employees" on the account) -- when it comes to spending.

This is the stub for January 2008 (hat tip Josh):



Here is the stub for July 2008 (click to enlarge):



And here is a stub from August 2008 (click to enlarge):


Notice that Madoff also had a "hard" limit of $200,000 on his "no-preset-limit" card. Apparently, even the rich and fraudulent get hard limits. Who knew.

If you're interested in all of the purchases associated with the three AmEx statements, go here (hat tip DealBook).

54 comments:

  1. In the first statement, for January 2008, note that there is a purchase of $441 -- for bagels. That's a lot of bagels. Must have been for a meeting, I'd suspect.

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  2. Great item, Marcus. I see they celebrated the New Year 1/1/08 with a $1,564.53 meal at Bistro Chez Jean Pierre, at the north end of the island of Palm Beach, where I lived for many years (across the Intracoastal, with the plebians).

    Food and Wine magazine accurately describe it as "(t)he ultra chichi spot is ideal for people watching. Every woman is freshly coiffed in the style known locally as the 'Palm Beach Helmet.' If that doesn't entertain, the vegetable soup and shiitake salads are standouts."

    And I'm guessing the people who were their guests were clients who can no longer afford to eat there and wander around muttering, "Oh shiitake," or something close to it.

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  3. A solid 20% plus tipper! Also, a lowly $2.39 charge at a Pharmacy. Obviously didn't believe in carrying cash.
    Very interesting stuff.
    Scott

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  4. Another observation; every airline ticket appears to be economy class. That's just plain weird.
    Scott

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  5. Also, notice how much money Amex was making on the "premium" luggage and airline protection insurance fees.

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  6. Scott, I noticed the economy tickets. Strange!

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  7. Also, I see that Bernie made a payment for $99,999.99. I guess Amex can't take a payment of $100,000 or more.

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  8. Strange, CMB, cause I bet big corporations charge a lot more than 100k a month.

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  9. Josh, I agree with you. That would be a pain in the ass if you had to make multiple payments like that.

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  10. You think Picard will cash out on the membership rewards? It's quite probable that Madoff defaulted on the account, and thus all 800k or so of points are invalid.

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  11. If there was a default, the points are forfeited.

    Also, notice that there were almost 800K points at the end of the year. But less than 500K during the middle of the year. I have to think that Madoff and crew were not "banking" those points. They redeemed them. Smart.

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  12. Just to give an idea about what ~ 800k of membership rewards gets you:

    - TWO tickets on business class to Tahiti
    or
    - EIGHT tickets to South Africa.
    or
    - Three-Night Ultimate Package for Two at Miraval® Arizona Resort and Spa
    - A cruise for one.
    or
    - $4000 in Amex Gift Cards.
    or
    - A 14K WHITE GOLD 1.00 CTW PRINCESS CUT DIAMOND RING

    If only the Schwab card worked for business purposes....they could have received a cash back of $16,000.

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  13. Josh, thanks for crunching those numbers. Cash back would have been nice!

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  14. I guess Mark Madoff was not happy with his dinner service on 12/24/07. Bill was $254. Tip was $15.

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  15. I notice a lot of charitable contributions... Good people these Madoffs.

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  16. Yep. I noticed that too.

    Also, these people spent a lot of money on transportation services.

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  17. And Andrew spent a night at the Esperanza in Santa Monica for $8400. Andy really knows how to slum it.

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  18. They left several instances of his card number unblacked

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  19. The account has been long closed...don't think there's any harm in knowing an inactive number.

    The account was transferred to a law firm, forgot the name.

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  20. Nice meal for Joann Crupi on 1/12/08. $1,080.70.

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  21. Their July and posted full payment of their balance. At least they didn't like paying Amex interest. Would be interesting to see what the CL lines are now.

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  22. I am very disappointed in Shana Madoff (January 2008). She bought plane tickets with little notice. Madoff's clients, er, Shana Madoff, was charged an arm and a leg for that lack of planning.

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  23. Notice that there were a couple of Business Black cards here too. At the end of the first statement you can see the points that were accrued on each card. A few Business Centurion cards.

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  24. You think all their personal cards were shutdown due to being high risk or only this corporate one?

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  25. I would suspect that AmEx shut all of them down once they learned that the Madoffs were involved in a huge Ponzi scheme.

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  26. If they defaulted on the business account, the personal cards would have been shut down right with it.

    Not sure what Amex does in case of a legal question, but knowing Amex I doubt they left the personal cards open.

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  27. Ruth must be resorting to debit cards now, how embarrassing! :)

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  28. Yeah. She is now slumming it. I feel for her. :)

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  29. I see that Andrew Madoff went to France with Catherine Hooper in July 2008. Is that his wife? Hehe.

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  30. That was for travel in August, by the way.

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  31. The most expensive purchase that I can see was on June 26, 2008, for Tradewind Aviation. Only $77,388. Mark Madoff is a stud.

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  32. Now that's what I am talking about. If you're using Monopoly money, tip well. Richard Carroll had a meal on 8/7/08. More than 20% tip. Good work, RC.

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  33. Frank DiPascali sure does like The Sunset Grill. In August he was there quite a bit.

    Also, it looks like Rudy's Limo Service double charged the Madoffs for car service. Same charge of $190.58 on 8/19/08. I'd get a credit for that. Ha!

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  34. Oh, unless he needed two cars for two parties. Possible. But the accountant should check into that!

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  35. RE: Rudy's Limo Service
    Or it was two trips - to the airport in the morning and back in the evening.

    As for the coach tickets, they could be for staff.

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  36. Anon, you're right. Too many variables with Rudy's. Need to get the accountant on that one!

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  37. Why, they just seem like regular folks -- Netflix, Home Depot, Chili's. ;)

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  38. Ken, yeah. I saw that Netflix charge of $18.01. Same as I pay. They're just regular folk like you and me. :)

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  39. Anyone notice that $2,490.00 purchase for gas at Shell? heh

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  40. Lotta local spots in NJ that I noticed a lot of his people went too.. kinda funny.

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  41. I noticed that. I figured it had something to do with a yacht. Fuel up near the water (at a water gas station).

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  42. Ain't it also interesting that Bernie didin't use the card at all....?

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  43. Right. Bernie rarely used the card. During two of the three months he didn't use it once.

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  44. From the Chase bank statements that they have after the AMEX ones it looks like the $99,999.99 thing is Chase's e-bill system. They must have that as their ACH limit. At least per ACH and not per day because usually there are multiple payments made on the same day adding up to the amount owed. Though on one they're a week apart.

    It looks like they had a Chase account open for the sole purpose of paying their AMEX bill. Every month they would transfer in money from Bank of New York Mellon then payout to AMEX the same day. Oddly it notes specfically to the AMEX "Trustee CO in New Delhi India". Then they'd get charged a BS "Account Analysis Settlement Charge" for between 70-120 dollars each month by Chase.

    Not only do the rich and fradulent get hard limits on their AMEX's but they get charged BS fees for lightly (activity-wise not amount-wise) used checking accounts!

    When I make a payment on my AMEX through their site it says COMPUTER PAYMENT RECEIVED on the AMEX statement. When I make a payment through BOA's online bill pay it says ELECTRONIC PAYMENT RECEIVED. I guess they or Chase notes CHECKLESS PYMT RECEIVED when it comes from Chase.

    Interesting on the first page of the AMEX's with the handwritten notes of date paid and recorded. According to Madoff's secretary Ruth did the books so I guess that's her handwriting.

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  45. And CMB, Josh is right Bernie never used the card. The one month it showed activity was for the annual Membership Renewal Fee. And for the MEM RWDS AIRLINE TAX OFFSET FEE, whatever that is.

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  46. Thanks for pointing that out, Crlf. Just knew that there was a charge for Bernie during one of those months. Didn't realize (or notice) it was his annual fee.

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  47. The only people who went over 11k in a month were Ruth, Mark and Andrew (Mark did twice).

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  48. The only other people to come close to their spending on the account was Frank Dipascali Jr and Larry Birch in August. Frank practically lived at the Sunset Grille in Ocean City, MD. He ate there practically everyday and dropped 8 or 9k.

    Frank outspent him though flying around and buying Mets tickets and three Stubhubs (more Mets?).

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  49. Looks like Frank was on vacation when he was in MD. I imagine that restaurant was conveniently located. But it was his home away from home -- for sure.

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  50. Sunset Grill looks like a nice place. I think I'd enjoy the raw bar. http://www.ocsunsetgrille.com/

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  51. Anon, nice observation. Just checked out the menu. Looks good.

    http://www.ocsunsetgrille.com/menu.php

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  52. Watched the Frontline on PBS about Madoff the other night. Apparently Frank Dipascali was the guy who ran the Ponzi part of the business while the kids ran the legit market making side. Nice quote from an old lady in Florida who had some questions about her investments and Frank told her that if she didn't like the way he did business she could leave. And she didn't.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/madoff/

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  53. Too bad you can't look to specific bits of the video on PBS. There's a text summary on this page:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/madoff/investors/

    Joan, 75, and Arnold Sinkin, 76, retired carpet salesman
    Before investing, Joan called Bernard Madoff. "He came right to the phone, very friendly. … And he explained that he makes purchases from the S&P 100 list." Their regular contact person was Madoff's right-hand man, Frank DiPascali, whom the Sinkins describe as "difficult" and "arrogant," uninterested in engaging their questions. Yet for 34 years, the couple saw positive returns on their dividends each month, and so they stayed with Madoff. The Sinkins used the money to send their children to college and to retire to Boynton Beach, Fla.

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