The Charger Blog

White-Collar Crime Expert Discusses Legacy of Madoff Ponzi Scheme

Michael Clark, a senior lecturer in criminal justice, spent 22 years as an FBI special agent investigating white-collar crime. He shares those experiences with University of New Haven graduate and undergraduate students.

December 11, 2018

By Dave Cranshaw, Office of Marketing & Communications

Michael J. Clark, M.A.
Michael J. Clark, M.A.

Ten years ago this month, Bernie Madoff, a former investment adviser was arrested for running what turned out to be the world’s largest Ponzi scheme.

What enabled Madoff’s elaborate plan – which scammed investors for close to $65 billion – to be effective for so long?

His reputation as a well-respected financer, which he used to deceive those charged with uncovering wrongdoing, so says Michael Clark, a University of New Haven senior lecturer in criminal justice, who spent 22 years as an FBI special agent investigating white-collar crime

"Madoff was successful because he was able to intimidate many of the auditors by his resume, reputation, and personality," Clark told

"The most important skill is to be relentless."Michael J. Clark, M.A.

In talking publicly about the case for the first time, the agents who led the FBI’s probe into Madoff said recently his crimes went on for roughly 45 years.

Professor Clark, an expert in investigations in public corruption and money laundering, teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in the University’s Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences.

A former instructor on financial crimes and ethics in law enforcement at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest, Hungary, he also is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI, the FBI Agents Association, and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

"The most important skill is to be relentless," Clark says. "You must drill down to interview all responsible parties – get out of the executive suite and into the trenches."