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Officials say claims to Madoff Victims Fund are larger than previously thought

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GREENWICH, Conn. - Officials say the number of victims seeking relief for fraud committed by Madoff Securities is much larger — and with much larger losses — than previously thought.

The U.S. Department of Justice official in charge of administering the Madoff Victim Fund said Tuesday that it has received more than 51,700 claims from investors. There were claims from investors in 119 countries with losses of more than $40 billion.

These haven't been reviewed to eliminate ineligible claims, but the flood of requests gives a new indication of the size and global reach of the Madoff fraud. The fund plans to distribute just over $4 billion assets forfeited in the Madoff case.

Bernie Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence for bilking thousands of people of nearly $20 billion.

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