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Broken trust: A Ponzi scheme victim bounces back

Carol Lovil fell victim to Alan Stanford's ponzi scheme. After losing nearly everything, she's finding a way forward.

When Allen Stanford was arrested for defrauding investors to the tune of more than $7 billion in a Bernie Madoff-esque Ponzi scheme, he left some 30,000 victims in his wake. He had promised investors safety, security and a high rate of return on their money, but many of those he defrauded (a large percentage of are eldery women living off retirement savings) now find themselves living very different lives than they’d anticipated.

Carol Lovil, 69, was one of Stanford’s victims. Her husband John had worked his entire life for Nestle, retiring in 1999 with enough saved for a comfortable life together. In 2005, when their broker moved from Merrill Lynch to Stanford Financial Group, they transferred their savings with him. John died of cancer in 2006, and by 2009, when federal prosecutors arrested Stanford for wire fraud and tax evasion, Lovil found out almost all of her life savings was gone.

“I’ve lost a lot more than money is this,” Lovil told New York Times Wealth Matters columnist Paul Sullivan in a recent interview. “I’ve lost trust. I don’t trust anybody. It’s very sad. You can’t put a dollar amount on trust.”

Lovil’s attorney told her to sell her house and get a job in the wake of the uncovering of Stanford’s ponzi scheme, and that’s just what she did, downsizing her life and getting a job at a local library. With John’s Social Security check and the small amount she makes at the library, Lovil’s making it, though the financial security she thought she had is gone.

“She’s got a wonderful attitude,” Sullivan tells Tess Vigeland. “She says that even if she got the money back, she probably wouldn’t go back to her old lifestyle. She’d probably just save it and give it to her grand kids, and help put them through college.”

About the author

Paul Sullivan is the Wealth Matters columnist for the New York Times.

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