SoFla Auction of Bernie's Stuff May Be Bogus

Better Business Bureau issues warning over heavily advertised sale

By Brian Hamacher
|  Monday, Jan 11, 2010  |  Updated 11:01 AM EDT
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Madoff Boat Auction

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Bernie Madoff's victims may never see their money, but the lawyers sorting out his mess will.

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Bidding for Bernie's Victims

Buyers come out for an auction to benefit the victims of Wall Street cheat Bernie Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme.

Mad About Madoff Auction

All types of pricey pieces will be on display Wednesday during an auction made possible by Bernie Madoff. About 75 of the auction items belong to Madoff victims who need the money after the New York swindler conned them out of their fortunes.
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If you'd like to own a piece of convicted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff's crooked empire then today's "Bernie Madoff" auction in Coral Springs probably isn't the place to be.

Though the Marriott hotel auction has been promoted heavily with big square stickers on the front of local newspapers for weeks, the Better Business Bureau is warning that the auction may not be what it's cracked up to be.

"There have been problems across the country with the Bernie Madoff auctions," said Michael Galvin, with the Southeast Florida Better Business Bureau. "The key here is read the fine print."

The ads and auctions have been popping up nearly everywhere along the east coast, from New York to Miami, and have authorities, including the U.S. Marshals Service, questioning their authenticity.

Under the big red letters "Bernie Madoff Auction," the ad touts art from Picasso, Dali, Chagall and others, as well as watches and other pricey jewelry.

But this sentence below, the fine print, makes things a bit ambiguous:

"General order merchandise will constitute the majority together with Bernie Madoff's personal watch collection, golf clubs, fur coats and art."

While there may in fact be items that belonged to Madoff at today's auction, past auctions in Syracuse, N.Y., Charleston, S.C., and even West Palm Beach haven't been as promised, with no items belonging to Madoff offered.

Galvin and the BBB want bidders to use caution at the auctions.

"If they have nothing that is Bernie Madoff's at the auction, then it is a scam," he said.

The ad gives a Website address and a phone number for more information, though the crudely-designed site offers no additional info and calls to the number this morning went unanswered.

U.S. Marshals held an auction in November of some of Madoff's belongings, which brought in an estimated $1 million.

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