Real Heist Stories: Jordan Belfort, Wolf of Wall Street

A Real Wolf or a Sheep Inside a Costume?

Money. Whenever you think about it, do you usually consider all the possibilities available to add more zeros to your bank account? Including those that aren’t legal and, instead, are very immoral? 

If you ever thought about one or a few, we don’t blame you. We all have had a second in which we think stuff like, “What is I sell some drugs?” 

Of course, on most occasions, we aren’t actually serious about it. We have never considered doing something illegal or questionable to earn money since, honestly, we are quite scared and very against anything that isn’t correct. 

However, this is not what many believe or think, and you will find some people that decide to do as much as they can to make millions without worrying about others or if what they are doing is “right.” 

Jordan Belfort is one of those, and you might know him as the Wolf of Wall Street and lots of news about him going around. 

What is so interesting about him? That he is very likely a criminal or with questionable sources of money? Well, you will have to read to find out. 

Before His Criminal Past: Jordan Belfort Early Life

Not all criminals are bad or have a specific idea in mind since they are young or were just born. 

In this case, we have to admit that Jordan didn’t show signs of being a mastermind with all the crimes he committed, but if there’s something we have to remark is his interest in business during his early life. 

He was born in 1962 in Bronx, New York City. Belfort was the son of Jewish parents, and both his father, Max, and mother Leah were accountants.  

His first years in school aren’t really recorded or too detailed. However, he did show lots of interest in business and investment as well as in money in specific. 

He and Elliot Loewenstern, his childhood friend, earned $20.000 selling Italian ice from styrofoam coolers and was the first successful business he had in his life.

Belfort graduated from American University with a degree in biology after the success of the ice business.

With the money of the business, he intended to use it to pay for dental school. He enrolled at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. After the school dean told him that the golden age of dentistry was over, he left. All because he wasn’t going to make lots of money with the career anymore. 

After his brief stint at dental school, Belfort started a door-to-door sales business in Long Island. He claimed that the venture was successful and that his business could transport more than two tonnes of product each week.

By age 25, the business failed, and Jordan filed for bankruptcy. He was then interested in stockbroking and was able to get help from a friend.

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Starting the Criminal Career: When Everything Went “Wrong”

Now, we will be getting into the interesting part about his life and the dark one.

By the late 1980s, as Belfort approached age 30, he founded the financial firm Stratton Oakmont, an over-the-counter brokerage house. 

Stratton Oakmont performed admirably over the following years and was connected to nearly three dozen IPOs.

Belfort believed he could control and trust his family and friends, which is why he recruited them to fill high-ranking positions in the firm.

Although it started as a legit business with great success, Stratton Oakmont quickly adopted the use of the illegal “pump-and-dump” trading scheme. 

This involves brokers inflating stock prices using false and misleading positive statements and then selling the stock purchased cheaply at a higher value. 

Belfort and his broker would “dump” their shares once they had been bought at an exorbitant price. Stock prices would plummet, and investors would lose their money. 

The scheme was so easy to make money that many young stockbrokers applied for jobs at Stratton. Belfort was a major contributor to the “cult-like” culture, where he was a key figure.

Stratton Oakmont was a huge success throughout the ’90s. This enabled Jordan Belfort to make the decision of founding Monroe Parker Securities and Biltmore Securities.

These firms allowed him to manage stock prices and make huge profits.

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Stratton Oakmont was responsible for the initial public offering (IPO) of 35 companies, including Steve Madden Shoes. In less than three minutes, Steve Madden Shoes made Belfort $23 Million. 

At 34 years old, Belfort was a millionaire with a net worth of hundreds of millions. 

During this time, he was a party-goer and traveled extensively. This wealth led to an addiction to cocaine, Quaaludes, and other drugs. His drug-addicted lifestyle contributed to the sinking and crash of his yacht in the Mediterranean.

The firm grew despite Belfort’s drug use, and he decided it was in his best interest to hide illegal profits from the government and opened a Swiss bank account as a result. 

For this to work, Belfort’s family and friends would give money to him to help him smuggle money from the U.S. to Switzerland.

The SEC began to suspect the firm’s trading due to all the money involved and Belfort’s movements with his accounts and actions and launched an investigation. 

After a long journey, Stratton Oakmont paid $2.5million in civil securities fraud charges the SEC brought against them. 

Belfort was also prohibited from operating a business, and he had to sell his stake in Stratton. He quickly realized that the FBI was also looking into him for money laundering suspicions and realized that his circle of friends was working against him by giving information to the FBI. This series of events further aggravated his drug use. 

After allegedly kicking his wife down the stairs, he drove his car through the garage while his children were inside it. 

All this incident caused the police to arrive at his home, and he was taken into custody, spent several weeks in rehabilitation, and then returned.

However, a few months later, the FBI arrested him on money laundering and securities fraud charges.

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Consequences & Life After the Crimes

Since his arrest was inevitable due to all the proof the FBE was provided by some of his closest friends and family members, Jordan didn’t have any other choice than come to an agreement. 

In total, Stratton Oakmont bilked over 1,500 investors and stole $200 million, which he spent on drugs, parties, and living a “crazy” life. 

Overall, Jordan invested most of this money in just living a luxurious life and continuous investment in his illegal activities. 

He was sentenced to four years in prison for this crime and fined $110.4 million out of the money he stole from investors.  

Also, he chose to cooperate with authorities and provide information about his colleagues in the business, which led to his time in prison being reduced to two years only. 

For many, the price and consequences he faced should have been more severe considering how much money he made out of the business. 

At least, some agree that he should have returned the total amount he stole and spend more years in prison without allowing him to participate in similar activities in the future (when it comes to legal ones). 

Now, while in prison, Belfort began to write “The Wolf Of Wall Street,” which is his memoir. 

In 2006, Belfort was freed from prison, and “The Wolf on Wall Street” was published two years later. 

His sequel “Catching The Wolf of Wall Street” appeared the following year. 

Many don’t know that Belfort currently resides in Los Angeles, California, and is now a motivational speaker who owns a sales training company that teaches people legal business strategies.

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5 Facts About ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

  • Due to his luxurious lifestyle, Belfort once generated a $700k hotel bill. 
  • He admitted to having landed his helicopter on his back lawn while flying with just one eye open.
  • He shares one of the secrets that he used his wife’s old aunt as a mule, who helped him smuggle money out of the USA.
  • Before the four-year sentence, which was then reduced to 2, he was facing up to three decades in prison.
  • Jordan had drugs as “his meals.” Valium for breakfast, marijuana for lunch, and Quaaludes for dinner.

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