Madoff: Victim vs. victim

Some investors are getting enough compensation to get back on their feet -- others are out of luck.

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By Allan Chernoff, CNN Sr. Correspondent

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Bennett Goldworth is among the first to receive a SIPC payment: 'I'm one of the fortunate ones,' he said.
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Judy Rafferty has gotten nothing: 'I don't think it is fair at all,' she said.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Bennett Goldworth thought he was set for life when he retired three years ago at age 50. He bought a waterfront apartment at the high-end Four Seasons Condominium in Fort Lauderdale, and said goodbye to New York and his job selling real estate.

"I felt I had everything I wanted in life, which was great," said Goldworth.

A decade of investing with Bernard Madoff had given Goldworth the financial security to enjoy the "good life" in Florida, until Madoff's arrest last Dec. 11. "I didn't just have money stolen, I had my whole life stolen," he said.

Today the condominium is in contract to be sold. Goldworth is living with his father in Manhattan and grateful to be back at the Corcoran Group selling homes again.

He's also among the first to receive a full half-million dollar insurance settlement from the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which insured direct accounts of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. "I'm one of the fortunate ones," said Goldworth at his office where fellow realtors all were trying to sell million-dollar apartments. "I was very happy, very pleased."

But, other Madoff victims -- like Judy and Don Rafferty, senior citizens who've had to come out of retirement -- have gotten nothing.

"I felt as though we were cheated. I felt violated," said 67-year old Judy who now works as a legal assistant.

The Raffertys for years had withdrawn what they believed were earnings from their Madoff account. The trustee overseeing restitution, Irving Picard, says the Raffertys withdrew more than they invested and are therefore entitled to nothing, even though their account also was insured by SIPC for up to $500,000.

"They changed the rules in the middle of the game which I don't think is fair at all," complained Rafferty.

It is fair, argues Goldworth who maintains, "The net winners should be in the back of the line. First thing that should be addressed is that everyone get back everything they invested."

Rafferty counters, "He got his money back, why wouldn't he feel comfortable? It's the people who haven't gotten their money back that are not happy."

The majority of Madoff investors are not happy. More than 16,000 investor claims have been filed, SIPC President Stephen Harbeck said Thursday. So far, Picard and his staff have reviewed 11,563 of them and approved only 1,647 -- just 14%.

Even for those victims whose requests have received an 'OK', the bulk of the funds are not guaranteed: only $561 million -- 12% of the allowed claims -- is being funded by SIPC.

Some Madoff investors are suing Picard, charging him with breach of fiduciary trust for denying them a SIPC insurance payment.

Those lawsuits are especially troubling to Goldworth who believes legal battles will further delay the Trustee paying out claims. "It's very counterproductive," he said. To top of page

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