Jordan Belfort is an American writer, entrepreneur, ex- stockbroker, speaker, and financial criminal – and is the inspiration for the movie “Wolf of Wall Street.”
In 1999, he was found guilty of many stock market-related crimes and a scam involving penny stock.
He spent 22 months in jail, and during that time, he wrote two memoirs: “The Wolf of Wall Street” – adapted into a movie in 2013 – and “Way of the Wolf.”
He was highly criticized for making money from his stories as he stole from the innocent, yet they received nothing.
Belfort has turned his life around after serving jail time for the massive frauds he carried out.
After being released from jail, he went on to become a motivational speaker, with one of his main topics being the differences between ambition, greed, and passion on Wall Street.
Early Life and Career
Jordan Belfort was born in 1962, grew up in Queens, NY, and had a knack for business from a young age.
He started by working with a friend selling Italian water ice desserts using affordable styrofoam coolers at a beach near his family home.
In just one summer between high school and college, they earned an astounding $20,000.
He had plans to go to dental school and would pay for it using the money he had saved up from his previous venture.
However, the head of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry told the students that dentistry wasn’t a path to financial success.
Belfort had no interest in not making money, so he dropped out.
He started as a door-to-door salesperson on Long Island, and from that came success.
He grew the business himself and created a small team of workers moving more than two tons of products, such as seafood and meat, weekly.
The business eventually failed, and he filed for bankruptcy.
That set him on the path of stockbroking, which he got into with the help of a family friend.
Belfort founded the financial firm Stratton Oakmont in the late 1980s.
Stratton Oakmont did exceptionally well during the next few years and was linked to the IPOs of almost three dozen organizations.
The scams that led to jail time
It wasn’t until he founded his business that Belfort started committing crimes which landed him in jail.
Stratton Oakmont was involved in many scams and frauds, including pump-and-dump schemes to increase penny stock prices.
The business was a type of boiler room with workers that would persuade and put pressure on investors to place their money into securities.
When the business was at its very top, it employed approximately 1,000 stockbrokers overlooking investments worth over $1 billion.
Eventually, the National Association of Securities Dealers took legal action against the company.
By 1996, it was shut down.
In 1999, Belfort and his associate Danny Porush were accused of securities fraud and money laundering.
Belfort pleaded guilty to the pump-and-dump schemes, which cost his investors nearly $200 million.
His original sentence was four years in jail, but he only served 22 months.
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Life After Prison
After being released from prison early, he agreed to pay half of his total income to the investors he scammed.
There was a complaint filed against him in 2013 stating he’d not paid the correct amount of money in the last three years.
In the end, made a separate deal with authorities to complete the payments.
After the success of his biographies and the hugely successful film adaptation of The Wolf of Wall Street, Belfort became a motivational speaker.
He now educates others about the financial world and questions of ethics.
Belfort is aware of his mistakes, and blames drug addiction for his behaviour.
He stresses how he regrets losing money for his clients through all the scams.
Belfort continues to run a successful motivational speaking business.
It is thought Belfort is worth around $115 million.