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By   /   Sunday, February 15th, 2009  /   Comments Off on Madoff

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When Elaine Dine sold her attorney head-hunting firm about a decade ago, an employee told her about a seemingly solid investment called Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities.

“He closes the books day to day,” the employee told her. “It’s like having cash.”

So Dine, a South Coast resident for the past five and half years, put her money in. Now she’s among the thousands of investors from whom Madoff allegedly fleeced $50 billion in a massive Ponzi scheme.

Dine – who declined to say just how much she had invested with Madoff – said the New York firm was nasty and secretive over the phone. “If you asked how they did what they did, they would never tell you,” Dine told me during an interview at her Montecito home. “But there were a lot of Wall Street people who invested with them.”

Courtesy isn’t a required virtue if an investment pays well and regularly, and pay Madoff did. Dine said she used the money to live on. “I could get $250,000 wired to me any time, and in seven days I could get a check for anything,” Dine said.

Dine said she never got the purported 20 percent “returns” that have grabbed headlines and caused critics to charge that red flags went unnoticed. She estimated she got returns of 8 percent to 11 percent – good indeed, but not off the charts or unbelievable.

“They make it sound like every one who went in was greedy,” Dine said. But that’s not the case at all, she insists. “We thought it was safe money.”

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