Robert Allen Stanford’s $7.2-billion fraud is known as the second-biggest Ponzi scheme in North American history when compared to Bernie Madoff’s $65-billion scam. But Madoff’s billions were mostly fictional, and in terms of victim-investors and lavish lifestyles, Stanford is – by far – the biggest.
Stanford’s scheme centred on selling certificates of deposit to more than 21,000 customers in approximately 113 countries, court documents show. He also spent millions of dollars on himself, financing a lavish lifestyle of yachts, helicopter rides, private jets, cricket tournaments and gambling trips to Vegas. Prosecutors allege in the last 10 years of his fraud Stanford stole approximately $2 billion, eight times more than Madoff, who kept $250 million for himself and his family.
In terms of reported dollars, Madoff claimed client accounts held $64.8 billion. In reality, the estimated loss to investors was approximately $20 billion for Madoff clients and $7.2 billion for Stanford clients.
Many of these numbers are still being disputed in courtrooms across North America today, and it could be years before victims in either scheme get much of the money they invested back.
WATCH: Lincoln Caylor is a Toronto lawyer whose firm is suing TD over its involvement with Allen Stanford. He tells 16×9 why one of Canada’s biggest banks was important for Stanford.