Madoff's Alleged Ponzi Scheme Destroys Life Savings, Sends Elderly Back to Work

To Abby Frucht, Bernard Madoff is "the Wizard of Oz."

She says her father, 84-year-old Howard Frucht, invested heavily with Madoff with a kind of blind faith that consistent, positive returns built up over the more than decade.

But in December, the curtain was finally pulled back on Madoff and he was arrested for allegedly orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history. Instantly, hundreds of Americans realized their faith and money had been placed in nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

Last week, a list was released that named many of Madoff's "customers," several prominent celebrities among them. But behind the bold-faced A-lister names were hundreds of "regular" Americans, like Howard Frucht, who very quietly lost everything they worked for their entire lives.

Now those people are reacting, some with indomitable determination, others with pure rage and fury, to their loss and the deceit they say they never saw coming.

Elderly Man With Alzheimer's Unaware of $1 Million Loss

Abby Frucht, a writer from Oshkosh, Wis., said her father had invested with Madoff for more than ten years.

Now in an assisted-living facility in New Mexico and suffering from Alzheimer's, Howard Frucht does not know his retirement nest egg, around $1 million, is gone.

"It's both a blessing and a curse that he's not really aware of what's happening," she told ABC News. "He wasn't devastated by the breach of trust for the crime that was committed against him."

But Abby Frucht, who has power of attorney over her father's investments, has been devastated, even though she had suspicions about the Madoff investments years ago.

She said she once called one of Madoff's offices when she thought one of the investment slips she'd received had questionable stock purchases on it.

The lady on the other end of the line simply told her that she had misread the statement and that "BOT" did not stand for "bought" as she had surmised, but for "sold" and "SLD" stood for "bought."

"I said 'really?' She said, 'yes.' Either she was lying or she was just as much in the dark as I am," Abby Frucht said.

Eventually, she stopped calling.

"People in [Madoff's] office ... would be so rude and so off-putting that you learned to steer away from calling and asking questions," Abby Frucht said.

Still, she was shocked when she learned of Madoff's arrest.

"What gets me the most is [my father] started out with Madoff when he was in his prime. He was doing what he thought was the best thing for his family," she said. "To look back at the times Dad took us out to dinner and all that money was monopoly money was surreal."

Now she said she and her sisters are pooling their resources to provide for their parents' assisted-living expenses.

90-Year-Old California Senior Goes Back to Work

In his 90-year life, Ian Thiermann has done "a great many things" for work. Last week, after 30 years of retirement, Thiermann added one more line to his extensive resume: grocery store greeter.

Thiermann did not even know he had been investing with Madoff for the past 30 years until a friend told him he lost everything in December. He had trusted his money to the advice of a longtime personal friend who also lost his life savings.

But after he found out his life savings was wiped out, he reacted not with anger, but with inspiring calm.

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