How do you make $50 billion disappear (other than by giving it to AIG)? Well, longtime investment manager Bernard Madoff has done just that. And now he’s under arrest.

Madoff, the former chairman on the NASDAQ, is accused of running a Ponzi scheme with his hedge fund that has cost investors as much as $50 billion in losses. This makes the case one of the largest incidents of fraud in American history.

Apparently, his firm generated very consistent, very high returns for many years in a row. That’s easy to do with a Ponzi scheme. Until, of course, you run out of suckers and the money dries up. If the allegations are true, I hope Madoff goes away for a long time. But, as always, this level of fraud is fueled not just by the huckster but by those who buy into the idea that there’s an easy way to make a buck. If the recent economic crisis has proven anything, it’s that get-rich-quick schemes never work.

Business Wall Street Veteran Arrested for $50 Billion Fraud Scheme