It's been almost five years since Bernie Madoff was arrested and the world found out he'd been running a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme for decades. Today, his indirect victims became eligible for compensation.
A $2.35 billion fund has been set aside for third-party investors who lost money through the scheme, i.e. people who invested in firms that invested in Madoff. CNNMoney reports that's over 10,000 people who may now be eligible for compensation. (The New York Times says the number could be "many times that.") It also means that the vast majority of people who lost money in Madoff's scheme may now get at least some of it back. Richard C. Breeden, the "special master" (yes, that's his official title) in charge of distributing the money, told The Times that a good 85 percent of Madoff's victims were third-party investors.
This is on top of a separate $9.5 billion fund set aside for direct investors/victims. Together, it still amounts to $5.6 billion less than Madoff's scheme took in, but it's better than zero. Madoff is currently serving a 150-year prison sentence. His brother, Peter, was sentenced to 10 years in jail in December.
The Madoff Victim Fund is already open for business, so submit your claims now. No, seriously, do it now – you won't be able to after February 28. As the MVF site says: "PLEASE DO NOT DELAY STARTING THE PROCESS."