"his failure promised to be one of the most discreditable in the history of Wall Street "
Wall Street 1870
Public DomainWall Street 1870 - Credit: George Bradford Brainerd

Wall Street’s history is liberally peppered with fraudsters and rogues.  The most prominent villains include:     

Bernard Madoff - a prominent money manager and former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market. In March 2009 he confessed to turning his wealth management business into a massive Ponzi scheme, defrauding thousands of investors of almost $65 billion.  Investigators believe the fraud began as early as the 1970s. In June 2009 Madoff was sentenced to 150 years for what a federal judge called an act of "extraordinary evil.”

Bernard Ebbers- former chairman of defunct telecommunications company Worldcom Inc. In 2005 he was convicted of fraud and conspiracy as a result of WorldCom's false financial reporting, and subsequent loss of US100-billion to investors. At the time the WorldCom scandal was the largest accounting scandal in US history (subsequently eclipsed by Madoff). He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.  Time magazine named him the tenth most corrupt CEO of all time.

Kenneth Lay – former chairman of Enron Corp.  He was accused of lying about the financial state of the company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2001.  He was convicted of 11 counts of securities fraud and related charges. He died while vacationing in Colorado, a few months before his scheduled sentencing. 

Some Wall Street villains have reacted to their notoriety in strange ways.

Marcus Schrenker, a former investment adviser with Heritage Wealth Management Inc, was accused of misleading investors and misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars. In response, he faked his death in a plane crash in early 2009.  He is currently serving a four year sentence for faking his death, having reached a plea bargain on the fraud charges. 

Ross Mandell styles himself as a real-life Gordon Gekko (as played by Michael Douglas in the 1987 movie Wall Street). Indicted for conspiracy and securities fraud, he has used the charges to drum up personal publicity, and aims to get his own reality TV show.

Jordan Belfort’s books about his high-life as a fraudster, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Catching the Wolf of Wall Street, tell the tale of his rise and fall, with lots of sex and drugs along the way.  The books are best sellers, and a movie is currently in production.  He tours as a motivational speaker, ‘discussing how to achieve success without sacrificing integrity and ethics.