The 12 Steps To Ponzi Scheme Recovery
By Rachel Feintzeig

Have you lost thousands at the hands of a Ponzi scheme? Did you cozy up to Bernie Madoff, Tom Petters or Nicholas Cosmo, only to get burned in the end? Are your mother and therapist tired of hearing about your lost investments?

Then you might want to join the crowds at, an online community for people who thought 12% annual returns sounded too good to resist. The site provides informational resources and message boards to victims of everything from “dating/romance scams” to dinner-party scams (whereby your friends rope you into a pyramid scheme over wine coolers.)

Even if you haven’t personally funneled your life savings into a new Italian restaurant without your knowledge, the Web site might be worth checking out. After all, while court dockets may dish up important motions and orders, only the Scam Victims United message boards can bring some of your favorite bankruptcy cases to life. Why read through the affidavit from creditors petitioning to send Agape World Inc. into involuntary Chapter 7 when you can watch the drama unfold in real time on

“I suggest that everyone begin to thoroughly check out for themselves the entities to whom their money was supposedly loaned instead of banking on ANYTHING that Cosmo has told you,” a user named ArchiJohn6464 warned on the Agape World message board on Dec. 17, 2008. “It’s only a guess but I’d bet that Cosmo’s other loans are backed by nothing more than his hot air.”

In other threads, loyal investors lashed out against the unfaithful few who dared point out the suspicious similarities between Agape World and Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. Some were defensive, while others were just in denial.

“Everything is fine,” Ballin08 wrote on Dec. 30, 2008. “They just had a lot of redemptions at the end of the year.”

But by late January, even Ballin08 had to face the music.

“Put the news on people. Nick is in cuffs!!!” a user called Dragon Tails wrote on Jan. 26. “That doesn’t happen to legitimate business owners.”

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