Local victims of Bernie Madoff: 'This can't be real'

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Bernie Madoff shattered thousands of lives, ripping away investments from everyone from high-profile clients like Kevin Bacon and Stephen Spielberg to families right here in the Delaware Valley.

Action News spoke with two victims who say they placed their trust in Madoff's hands.

"They said it's Bernie Madoff, go for it," said Charles Weg of Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

It's been eight years since authorities arrested Madoff for bilking billions off investors.

Weg's parents were among those left empty handed, losing their $200,000 investment.

It was a financial blow that forced Bea Weg out of her house and into a retirement home where she died in 2012.

"I can't live with being angry, and certainly I don't forgive Bernie Madoff for that," said Weg.

Dr. Gilbert Grossman started investing with Madoff 25 years ago after his father-in-law, a savvy investor, waited nearly two years to get in with Madoff.

"This was surreal. I literally could not believe that I was even involved with something like this," said Dr. Grossman.

But he, like the Wegs, was a modest investor - though he won't say how much entrusted to the now imprisoned 77-year-old.

"It was nice to know that no matter what happened, you had a secure financial future, which overnight was wiped away," said Dr. Grossman.

ABC's special on Madoff unravels the Ponzi scheme Madoff perpetuated.

It's unclear how long he operated his scheme. But the Wegs, and thousands of others, never were suspicious.

"There were regular checks of reasonable returns," said Weg.

He says his parents received receipts, stacks of them, every month.

But Dr. Grossman can't say the same - he never saw a dime.

"This was all on paper," said Dr. Grossman.

Fortunately, Dr. Grossman diversified his investments so the loss was not a devastating financial blow.

Both he and the Weg's didn't learn about their sudden misfortune until Madoff's arrest hit the airwaves.

"I can remember what I said to myself: 'I can't wait until I wake up from this dream. This can't be real,' " said Dr. Grossman.

Bankruptcy lawyers have been able to recover $11 billion for Madoff's victims that get an approved claim.

Weg said he has been told by authorities that since his family was an early investor and did receive checks, that was likely all they would get.

Victim asks actress for impersonation:

While conducting interviews, we caught video of an interesting exchange between Weg and actress Suzanne Smart, who plays Madoff's secretary, Annette Bongiorno, on ABC's miniseries "Madoff."

Weg says when he would call Madoff's office he would often talk to Bongiorno.

In the video, he and Smart talked about the secretary who we now know is a central figure in the Madoff case, and asks for her impersonation:

EMBED More News Videos

While conducting interviews for a special report, Action News witnessed an interesting exchange between victim Charles Weg and actress Suzanne Smart, who plays Madoff's secretary, Annette Bongiorno, on ABC's "Madoff."

Dr. Grossman has not pursued compensation.
Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.