BOCA RATON, FL – The Richards depend on their neighbors for dinner these days. All of their money, millions of it, was with Bernard Madoff.
"We scraped together every nickel that we had and sent it into Bernie and we've been invested with him ever since, almost 30 years,” says Steve Richards.
Now, like many, they are wondering why someone considered a friend for so long potentially scammed them. Forensic psychologist Dr. Phil Heller works on thousands of criminal cases. He has never met Madoff, but says the financier fits a profile.
Dr. Phil Heller says, "A psychopath makes you give them money, believing in something else and you're betrayed."
A psychopath is someone who lacks a conscience and empathy. In his practice, Dr. Heller has dealt with victims of people with anti-social personalities.
"A pschopath will never think he's wrong. If you were stupid enough to give me money that's o.k. for me that rationalizes if for me,” says Dr. Heller
He’s not surprised there is a long list of possible Madoff victims.
Dr. Heller says, "Takes some time to engage you. You'll get a sense of security."
Dr. Heller says the victims will struggle to understand.
“It's not only the stealing it's a violation,” he says.
In his professional opinion they will likely never get the closure of an apology. He says the diagnosis of psychopath is the only mental illness that cannot be used as a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Copyright 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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