It's tough enough to get a job in this economy, but what happens when Madoff is part of your name?
That's the challenge facing Mark and Andrew Madoff, the sons of the man convicted of perpetrating the largest Ponzi scam in history, Bernard Madoff. Along with the dozens of other employees at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, the Madoff brothers lost their jobs last year as their father's pyramid scheme and his business unraveled.
These days, Mark Madoff, 45, is wondering whether he can find another job in finance. Andrew Madoff, 43, has considered starting a disaster recovery firm, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources.
Ron Geffner, a former Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement attorney and a partner at the law firm Sadis & Goldberg, doesn't expect the brothers will have much luck.
"They're social pariahs," he said. "… I don't see anyone hiring them in securities industry, unless it's a long-time family friend, and the Madoffs are short on family friends."
ABCNews.com asked readers whether they would consider hiring the Madoffs -- and not surprisingly, most who responded said no. But there were also others who said that they, in fact, wouldn't mind adding the brothers to their payrolls. (For ABCNews.com readers' responses, see the next page.)
Mark and Andrew Madoff, who were co-directors of trading at their father's firm, were the ones who turned Bernard Madoff in after he confessed the scheme to them last year. But being whistleblowers hasn't shielded them from public criticism and legal battles.
In October, Irving Picard, the trustee appointed to liquidate Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities and recover money for Madoff's victims, filed a $199 million lawsuit against the brothers and two other Madoff relatives who also worked at the firm. In a written statement released at the time the claim was filed, Picard alleged that the Madoff family members were "completely derelict" in their duties at the firm and, as a result, "either failed to detect or failed to stop the fraud, thereby enabling and facilitating the Ponzi scheme."
Picard's claim said that both brothers were registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the independent regulator for U.S. securities firms.
The Madoff brothers' lawyer, in an e-mail to ABCNews.com, called the lawsuit's claims "baseless" and argued that ultimately, the brothers actually helped Madoff clients save money.
"Mark and Andrew Madoff had no prior knowledge of Bernard Madoff's crimes and contacted the U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC immediately after their father told them he had defrauded his investment advisory clients," said attorney Martin Flumenbaum. "By immediately turning him in, the brothers saved the victims of the fraud more than $170 million that their father was about to distribute."
Aside from contending that the brothers could have stopped the fraud, the lawsuit made another claim that would mar their resumes: that since 2007, the firm's businesses -- including the market-making business and the proprietary trading desk the brothers worked for -- would not have been profitable without the Ponzi scheme.
Geffner said the brothers would be best off looking for work outside the financial business -- they could, for instance, buy a fast food franchise or apply for jobs as civil servants.
"They have a long enough life left ahead of them where they can work hard and live a clean life and improve the family reputation," he said.
Some ABCNews.com readers agree with Geffner, while others had some more colorful responses to the question "Would you hire the Madoff brothers?" Read their messages below.
"Sure, as a janitor. In a bathroom."
-- Mike, Greenville, S.C.
"I would definitely hire both Madoff brothers. True story. Their father is the biggest theif in history. However, I am willing to hire them because they grew up in a business environment mostly. Moreover, I would never judge someone because of his father or where he came from. Plus, they know how to find a way to "walk around things," if you know what I mean. "
-- Nosayr Yassin, Arraba, Israel
"Why don't they change their names for a start ? The sins of the father should not be visited upon the sons."
-- Janice Byrne, Brighton, U.K.
"Yes, I would hire Mark & Andrew. It seems that at best they were blissfully ignorant to their father's crimes, however they did run a Wall Street powerhouse. Just having the Madoff name shouldn't bar them from continuing on their lives. The experience that they have gained over the years could be very helpful for company's in many different industries. However I think they should seek employment separately do "water-down" the Madoff stigma."
-- Anonymous, New York, N.Y.
"I believe they made a name and enjoyed the money their father made all of these years and should have blown the whistle on him many years back but did not.
"As a human being they are entitled to make a living in spite of all that if they can prove their talent."
-- Harry Pierre, Atlanta, Ga.
"The story goes like this: You are what your parents make you. … These men knew what was going on with there father I'm sorry to say. I hope them well but they have to prove themselves to the American people and that is going to be really hard with what happened with their father."
-- Doug van Cleave, Temperance, Mich.
"I am an unemployed paralegal student. Prior to that, I was a weekly newspaper editor and an assistant to a high tech corporate security director and I have law enforcement training myself.
"I feel sorry for the Madoff Brothers but I would never hire them. At least not in any position where they would handle cash and investments directly.
"I will have to question their motives for turning their Dad in. One worked there for 20 years and he had no idea what was going on? The other one should have known as well. Common sense should have alerted them."
-- Helene R Schmidt, Austin,Texas
"I have always believed that a person's family background does not matter when it comes to the individual. However, in the case of the Madoff Brothers an exception is in order. They worked with their father in a major criminal project, that is something as an employer I could never overlook."
-- Elizabeth Black, Gastonia, N.C.
With reports by ABC News' Kate McCarthy.