Thousands of Bernard Madoff victims have billions of reasons to be concerned about a court battle being waged in New York over just how much money was scammed in Wall Street's biggest Ponzi scheme.

At issue is which figure, $65 billion or $20 billion, will be used as the calculation for losses incurred by investors.

Lawyers representing investors are arguing with attorneys for bankruptcy trustee Irving Picard and the government over how the huge losses will be counted.

Judge Burton Lifland will eventually have to decide whether victims can get some of the $1.6 billion in assets actually recovered. In addition the squabble extends to two different groups, those who had taken out money from their accounts or "net winners" and those who lost money or "net losers".