Meet the Madoffs — of West Hartford.
Henry Madoff, who turns 89 in two weeks, retired years ago as a salesman. Adelaide Madoff, 84, retired as an insurance underwriter for Aetna.
They are connected in, arguably, a much worse way. The man, they say, stole a third of their savings.
The couple, whose names appear on a list of Madoff's victims filed in bankruptcy court earlier this week, first learned of Madoff's investment firm five years ago — they don't recall how or why.
"We heard that he was doing so well with his people," Adelaide Madoff said Friday.
So one day, the couple called up Madoff's office and simply asked whether they could invest. It didn't seem shocking to them at the time that Madoff accepted their money. They didn't know the key to Madoff's scheme was his air of exclusivity.
To become an investor with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities was to gain admittance to an elite and much-restricted club that only accepted those who knew somebody — someone connected, and with large sums of disposable income.
Whether the Madoffs of West Hartford, who described themselves as "everyday people, really," were granted this much-cherished permission to invest by the sheer coincidence of a shared surname, one might never know.
They never met Bernard Madoff, and never tried to contact him.
"Nobody ever asked us anything," Adelaide Madoff said.
At the time, they were just thrilled to tap into a seemingly steady flow of returns.
"And he delivered, and he delivered faithfully and sent us records," Adelaide Madoff said. "He did very well by us, right up until the bottom fell out."
In early December, Adelaide Madoff learned that the man who shared their name had stolen theirs and countless others' hard-earned cash through a scheme in which he paid off old investors with new investors' money.
"I opened up The New York Times," she said, "and suddenly my own name sprang out at me. And that's when I found out that we were caught in this."
A 162-page list, filed in a New York bankruptcy court late Wednesday, revealed that the Madoffs were among thousands of people and institutions allegedly duped by Madoff — with more than 200 in Connecticut alone.
The names of potential victims with a Connecticut connection range from the famous, like John Malkovich and CIGNA Corp., to the not-so-famous, like the Madoffs of West Hartford who are re-thinking retirement as they review their remaining savings.
The couple declined to say how much they lost in the Madoff scandal, but said it was less than $500,000 and represents roughly a third of their savings.
"It's a lot of money," she said. "Not only that, but my 401(k) is bleeding to death and our Fidelity account is dead."
The couple is also left to defend the name that might've gotten them into this Madoff mess in the first place. "People ask whether we're related and I tell them we're not," Adelaide Madoff said, "and that's the end of it."
They don't even pronounce their last name the same way — Adelaide Madoff says hers is pronounced "MAD-off." Bernard Madoff's name is pronounced "MADE-off."
Courant staff writer Matt Kauffman contributed to this report.