In brief, although Madoff claimed to control 'the world's largest hedge fund' worth in excess of $50 billions, in total, he actually got his hands on $17.3 billions of which 58% has subsequently been recovered. Madoff relieved his victims of their cash by steadfastly pretending to have developed an infallible mathematical strategy for investing money on the stock exchange. In reality, Madoff was an absurd liar who had not been making any of the countless miraculous trades which he claimed. He was merely blinding the world with meaningless economic/mathematical hocus-pocus and declaring endless (imaginary) profits in order to attract more and more victims into the classic version of a closed-market swindle popularly known as a 'Ponzi scheme.' Even though this rapidly-expanding labyrinth of lies was fully-explained and reported to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on various occasions, no law enforcement agent ever applied common-sense and required that Madoff simply provide quantifiable evidence that his so-called 'Hedge Fund' had been generating any revenue other than that deriving unlawfully from his victims.
Again, it is interesting to note that the mainstream media is still generally reporting this fiction as fact.