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Madoff's Scheme

Bernard L. Madoff
AP/New York Times
This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.
New York is a very small town. There are very few degrees of separation, especially in Manhattan.

Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody, and that again turns out to be the case with Bernie Madoff.

I'd never heard of the guy until last week, and in the last couple of days when I've spoken with my friends, many have stories of people they know and love who have been swindled by him.

A couple of million here, a hundred million there. Some folks can take the hit. Others have been wiped out.

Madoff's brilliance, it seems, was providing an investment that was on one hand too good to be true, while on the other, not so good as to make investors suspicious.

Madoff's returns weren't so showy they made you smug. You felt lucky to have been let in, and safety came from all the friends that were in it with you. Now there's bewilderment and tears. And embarrassment.