The Real Wolf of Wall Street
Original Airdate: May 20, 2014
In The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio played charismatic con-man Jordan Belfort who scammed millions of dollars from unwitting investors to pay for a life of unimaginable excess that included planes, yachts, mansions, and drugs.
Belfort thought DiCaprio’s portrayal of him was “great.”
Belfort's downfall began in 1999 when he pleaded guilty to securities fraud and spent 22 months in prison. He was also ordered to pay back $110 million to more than 1,500 of his victims, but according to most recent records, Belfort has only paid back roughly $12 million dollars, most of which came from assets seized at the time of his arrest.
Now, you would think that Belfort might be living frugally, since he still owes millions to his victims, but that wasn’t the case when we found him living in a beautiful oceanfront home in Southern California.
On many mornings, our cameras found Belfort heading off for private tennis lessons. His teacher is a former top ranked tennis pro, and he gets there in style, in his $140,000 Mercedes.
He also makes a great living traveling the globe, raking in millions of dollars as a motivational speaker. When he heads to speaking engagements, he doesn't fly coach. We saw him being chauffeured to a private jet after an event in Las Vegas.
Al Vitt is disgusted by Belfort’s lifestyle. He lost his life's savings of $215,000 to the Wolf of Wall Street. He says it drives him up the wall to watch Belfort sell himself to the public as a reformed man. Even Leonardo DiCaprio vouches for Belfort, saying, “Jordan stands as a shining example of the transformative qualities of ambition and hard work.”
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Former CNN personality Piers Morgan once asked Belfort, “Have you ever met one of your victims?”
Belfort responded, “I have not.”
Morgan asked, “Why not?”
Belfort replied, “No one sought me out.”
Well, that was about to change.
Guerrero spoke with another victim, Brad Johnsen, who says he lost $65,000 to the con man's company, Stratton Oakmont. She asked, "If Jordan Belfort apologizes to you, would that make you feel better?"
“A little bit better,” replied Johnsen. “A nice big check would be a lot better, but an apology would be great.”
Guerrero caught up with Belfort and his entourage as they were unloading luggage at the airport in Toronto, where he had just given a motivational speech.
“You are living this life of luxury, yet you owe your victims over a $100 million, how do you explain that?” she asked Belfort.
“It's not $100 million,” Belfort replied. “Actually this is going to be a great year, I’m actually doing a U.S. tour that I announced and I’m giving a hundred percent of the profits to pay back the victims.”
Guerrero asked, “When?”
Belfort said, “The first event will probably be in September.”
Then, she tried to introduce him to Brad Johnsen.
As Belfort was walking away, Johnsen asked, “Mr. Belfort, when do you plan on paying me back?”
When Belfort didn’t respond to Johnsen, Guerrero asked, “He's right next to you, can you take your sun glasses off and talk to one of your victims?”
Johnsen tried again to get Belfort’s attention. “I was not a wealthy man. That was my life's savings. That was a big deal.”
Belfort quickly stopped to respond: “I sold the firm in ’94. So I’m not responsible. So I’m sorry that you lost money, but it wasn't because of me.”
Guerrero then asked Belfort, “Do you have an apology for any of your other victims?”
But he walked away.
Guerrero asked Johnsen, “Were you satisfied with what he had to say to you?”
“I was so disappointed, I couldn't believe that he denied all accountability, it just blows me away,” he said.
This former investor believes Belfort has not changed his ways. “Once a thief always a thief,” said Johnsen. “I suppose someone could change their ways, but I don't see that this leopard has changed his spots.”