Consider him Bernie Madoff light. But what set him apart was his lavish lifestyle…while it lasted.
He founded brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont in the 1990s, based on one of the oldest scams in the business, the pump and dump. But the heady tech-stock boom provided the perfect backdrop for speculative investing and Belfort was there to cash in.
At its height, Stratton Oakmont employed more than 1000 “stock brokers” in its boiler room and moved more than $1 billion in stock issues. Most were fraudulent penny stocks, but Stratton also raise equity for Steve Madden Shoes.
Belfort was busted in 1998 on 22 counts of stock fraud after an FBI investigation. Contrary to the film, he cooperated with the FBI.
He cost investors more than $200 million in losses, was ordered to pay $110 million in restitution and spent 22 months in prison.
Today, he works as a motivational speaker and author in Los Angeles. He’s only paid back a fraction of the money he owes to his customers, according to published reports.
The movie is based on one of the books he wrote about his exploits. DiCaprio is joined by Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin, Rob Reiner, Kyle Chandler, Margot Robbie, Jon Bernthal, Cristin Milioti, P.J. Byrne and Ethan Suplee.
The movie will be released on Christmas day. How fitting.
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