This was not a man trying to swindle poor old widows out of their monthly social security checks. He wasn't trying to scam someone into believing they could make millions off the internet doing nothing. His victims weren't those so gullible as to believe that a bank in Nigeria would be depositing millions into their bank accounts.
Mr. Madoff scammed the sophisticated and the wealthy. He scammed them because they were blinded by the dollar signs he dangled in front of them. He scammed them because the Securities and Exchange Commission was (once again) asleep at the wheel. He scammed them because during the Bush years no one wanted to rock the boat and actually regulate the financial markets.
Certainly there are some very wealthy people who lost a lot of money, but losing money is a kinder fate than that which awaits the avarice in Hell -- sitting in a cauldron of boiling oil.
Here's more on the Madoff saga: