MILL VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) --Tonight, ABC begins a mini-series about Bernard Madoff. Eight years ago, the financial world was shocked when he bilked investors out of billions of dollars. Some of those investors were in the Bay Area, like Susan Letteer of Mill Valley.
Hang around the Old Train Depot in Mill Valley any morning and it looks like the good life, people smiling, tails wagging, but who knows what your neighbor might be going through.
"Appearances can be deceiving," Letteer said.
ABC7 News has checking in with Susan Letteer since 2008, right after what had been a comfortable lifestyle of investing turned upside down, due to Bernie Madoff.
Madoff, once-revered, now reviled, was convicted and sentenced to 150 years in prison for masterminding the most fraudulent Ponzi scheme in American history.
"They made it sound like it was exclusive. My best friends' best friends' father was best friends with Madoff and that is why I got in," Letteer said,
After the Madoff scandal, the government appointed a trustee to search for the money and get it back. He found billions. Everyone thinks it was a Hollywood ending, but not Letteer.
It turns out that Letteer withdrew her husband's money from their common account as part of a divorce settlement. Her ex-husband got the money back that he put in. She got labeled as having taken a profit.
"I applied. I went through hoops and I got nothing," she said.
Now she lives a different lifestyle. That fancy imported car, long gone. Trips to the movies, expensive clothes, forget them. Whatever books she reads come from the public library. But she doesn't want people feeling sorry for her.
"I don't want to give the impression I was rich. I felt secure. Now I don't. I worry," she said.
It has been said that those among us who measure wealth in terms of how much money they have, are never wealthy at all. There are many among us, maybe even next door, who learned that lesson the hard way.