The Madoff Ponzi Scheme Could Have Not Happened Without the Algorithms With 2 Programmers Arrested – Let’s Talk Algos In Healthc
Posted Nov 13 2009 10:01pm
This makes more sense to me that what we heard originally, having written a bit of code in my past life, because as large as it was, even the Ponzi stuff needs Algorithms! I know I talk a lot about that word at this blog and my focus is to educate and help others understand what is running this country and much of our businesses today – Algorithms. Learn that word and it’s right on the blog here with a link to help you out.
There are both good and what is considered “bad” algorithms. All the banks run them, is what they live off of. The investors use robotic software to set their plan of action for the day, the computer does the work all day, and yes, resetting or re-evaluating them during the day could be done too.
House 17 was the name of the server where the files were located in the Madoff network. I’m sure these 2 are pretty brilliant in their coding talents too, they would have to be for this to go on for so long. These 2 programmers did things like altering details about share and equities transactions, including creating fictitious times for the transactions. Transactions need algorithms written to function.
According to the story here, the 2 programmers met with Madoff and said they didn’t want to do this anymore. Well any smart coder knows when the algorithms become more difficult and complicated and with some foresight that only coders seem to have, they knew it was going to become difficult to maintain these at such devious levels, as I’m sure they had created their own internal use only audit trails to keep track of what they were doing themselves. It’s a hell of lot of code!
They took full advantage of antiquated government and other IT systems to make the big bucks. It’s almost like a hand of liars poker in a way as you pretty much know from public records, etc. what the other hand has. Interesting fact, healthcare has the same stuff going on too, anyone surprised here? About 6 years ago I used to tell doctors that if they did not beef up their interest and investments in technology like the insurance companies were doing that they would lose a lot of money to them with being taken advantage of with lack of technology. They laughed.
Today, they don’t laugh. I also said 2 years ago that we would be on the brink of riots in this country over healthcare, again they laughed, and today again, they don’t laugh. It’s that foresight and the ability of working with data integration and technologies that allows for the intelligence to forecast as coders know both the power and value of algorithms. Earlier this year I started with inquiring on whether or not the US Government needs a “Department of Algorithms”. Wendell Potter of Cigna sure knew what they were and has done his best to try and bring the message forward but again it’s hard when you speak to those who “feel uncomfortable” about talking technology, but by today’s standards it’s like you better get comfortable and learn up before all your money goes away. We certainly stand to make sure all the EHR vendors have their algorithms in a row and they pay for that too, so why not certify the other side?
I have had hospital CEOs run for the hills when I tried a few years ago to help them with business intelligence software and other items with computer technology, and the ones that run for the hills are the non-participants and those who sit in denial. All CEOs are not like this thank goodness, but a couple I ran into certainly played the role and used to make fun of the folks trying to make things better with technology. I felt myself that again on what I could project from my own knowledge that it would be a matter of time when things progressed forward to like where they are today, that they would eventually have to participate, and I still see this today, the inability to perk that area of curiosity with individuals who would rather be part of the problem instead of part of the solution. They just sit around and complain and take little or no time out to educate themselves in the areas of Health IT.
Code is valuable and money making software, why do you think Goldman Sachs was on the verge of heart attack not too long ago. I had one CIO from a big healthcare firm visit my blog and said I was crazy to think that CIOs needed to have a bit of tech knowledge. Funny thing was that he commented anonymously but bragged about his position, but signed on from the office network so my SEO software identified the company he was from immediately, made my point with CIOs needing some tech knowledge.
With healthcare reform we keep putting together monstrous pages of laws that nobody has time to read, when are we going to begin developing some “algorithmic centric laws”? Duh? Yes I am putting several links in here as I have been writing about these subject for the last 2 years.
In healthcare, we have the Ingenix Inquisition, there’s a case of some algorithms gone south and lots of legal suits filed and more coming I would guess. The code gets out eventually and is analyzed and when you get the good programmers in there who trace back how the transactional SQL and other statements are written, well it is all there to see. This is one reason why companies rely on propriety software for their money generating profits and I am not say all is bad in this effort, but when it comes to healthcare claims, well we know the story there as we end up with Forest Gump Health insurance in not knowing what we will get. Now we have Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General of New York who took on the case and is having a new data base created with code that is not hidden and skewed, programmers will do that if they get paid enough, just like Madoff’s guys did.
So again if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you may now understand what I have with “Algorithms” and why I talk about them so much, everything in the decision making processes relies on them. They are used to carve out a 24 hour new business model if needed, or to figure out how many people to lay off, everything in the business world and healthcare realm today.
In summary, give the Executive Branch a hand today for playing technology catch up. They are working at record speed to get the technology up to date to allow agencies like the FBI, the SEC, and the FDA for a couple examples to be our watchdogs and the agencies we want them to be. We need to do our share too in reading up on how our country functions in the global world today too, at least have some knowledge of how everything is technology driven and take part in a small portion of the education process. It only takes a few minutes a day to pull yourself away from entertainment to read up a little.
Like everyone else I am watching the debate and the moves through both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but one thing that keeps getting left out of all these discussions is “data aggregation”. Now, why is this important you might ask?
Whatever plan, laws, etc. that is approved will require data reporting, and to have data available and mined to get to the appropriate places we have to aggregate, to deal with more data red tape. Data aggregation is the hot word right now in healthcare, so if you follow some of the software articles and perhaps even some posts on this blog, that might help explain what’s going on.
With some algorithmic centric laws we might just be able to see our way to sooner defining “meaningful use” instead of the 1300 page bill that everyone gripes about and doesn’t comprehend as by adding algorithmic properties to laws they should be much easier to not only read but interpret as well and it might end up helping keep legal costs down too.
We don’t want to end up with Algorithmic Ponzi Schemes at the top level of our government too. BD
Two computer programmers were arrested Friday on charges of helping convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard L. Madoff cover up his illegal operation that bilked thousands of investors out of billions of dollars.
Jerome O'Hara, 46, Malverne, N.Y., and George Perez, 43, East Brunswick, N.J., were arrested at their homes by the FBI. They were scheduled to appear in a New York federal court later in the day.
“Without the help of O'Hara and Perez, the Madoff fraud would not have been possible," George S. Canellos, director of the SEC's New York office said ina statement. "They used their special computer skills to create sophisticated, credible, and entirely phony trading records that were critical to the success of Madoff's scheme for so many years."
Between 2004 and 2008, Madoff's firm underwent five reviews by the SEC and a European accounting firm. In order to cover up Madoff's Ponzi scheme, O'Hara and Perez allegedly developed and maintained programs that generated numerous false and fraudulent books and records.
For example, a small subset of Madoff's investment clients were created to hide the scope and nature of his business, according to the U.S. attorney. Names of account holders were changed to help explain why the SEC wouldn't find client securities custodied at the Depository Trust Co.
In addition, random algorithms were created to produce false details about the number of shares, execution times, and transaction numbers for trades reported on the trade blotters of Madoff's firm.