EAST YAPHANK, N.Y. (CBS 2) — She lost her life savings to the man dubbed Long Island’s own “mini-Madoff.”
Wednesday night, for the first time, one of his devastated victims, who is now working three jobs to make ends meet, went on the record with CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.
“This is the first time I’m talking about it with anyone. My family doesn’t even know what happened. I never even told them,” Ellen Gabriel said.
Gabriel, of East Yaphank, is now working three jobs in salons to just get by after her life was upended by Nicholas Cosmo, who ripped off 4,000 innocent victims. He was sentenced to 25 years last month and Gabriel was in federal court every step of the way.
On Wednesday, Gabriel learned Cosmo’s firm, Agape World, now dissolved, had even invested with MF Global, the bankrupt brokerage firm run by Jon Corzine. The firm is now being investigated by the feds.
“There is no recourse for any of us. No recourse at all,” she told McLogan.
While many of Bernie Madoff’s investors were wealthy, Cosmo swindled those of modest means, including teachers, firefighters and construction workers.
Gabriel, a hairdresser, lives alone.
“Saving was very important because I have no support system,” she said.
Glowing endorsements for Agape World never mentioned Cosmo once lost his license and was imprisoned in 1999 for securities fraud. Gabriel invested all she had.
“My whole IRA. Everything — $130,000,” Gabriel said.
Like Madoff, Cosmo was ordered to repay his victims. But the money is gone, and the feds say it’s unlikely those he stole from will see one penny.
“I was trying to be self sufficient. I scarified a lot to save — to do the right thing. That’s the painful part and there’s really nobody out there who can help,” Gabriel said.
Gabriel now works six, sometimes seven days a week. She has to start saving again for her future as a 63-year-old.
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