STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Now let's talk about paying back the cost of a gigantic fraud. Victims of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme are getting some money back. People who invested less than $1.1 million, the relatively smaller investors, will be paid back in full. That's according to a court appointed trustee. The checks will start going out later this year. From member station WSHU, Charles Lane reports.
CHARLES LANE, BYLINE: Today, trustees have recovered roughly $11 billion. That's almost two-thirds of what people invested with Bernie Madoff.
DAVID SHEEHAN: Seven years ago, no one anticipated that this kind of money would be recovered or returned to victims.
LANE: David Sheehan is one of the lawyers leading the effort to recover funds and get them returned to investors who lost out. He estimates there may be another 3 to $4 billion that is recoverable. Most of that money is in the hands of investors who made withdrawals before the pyramid scheme collapsed.
SHEEHAN: It's not a question of fairness. It's a question of at the end of the day, how do you make everyone whole? And the only way to make everyone whole in the Ponzi scheme is give everybody their money back.
LANE: Sheehan says investors who withdrew early essentially got illegal profits. But Barry Lax disagrees. He represents about 50 Madoff victims fighting to keep what money they got from Madoff.
BARRY LAX: So at the end of the day, they have to now pay back the trustee for things that happened decades ago. It's just blatantly unfair.
LANE: Lawyers estimate it'll take another five years before all the court cases are resolved. In the meantime, Hollywood is exploring the scandal. Both HBO and ABC are currently filming versions of the Madoff saga. For NPR News, I'm Charles Lane in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.