NEW YORK, March 19 (UPI) -- The owner of a New York restaurant says he is offering free meals to victims of the Ponzi scheme masterminded by Bernard Madoff.
Nino Selimaj, owner of Italian restaurant Nino's 208, said patrons who can show proof that they were victimized by Madoff, who pleaded guilty to running one of the largest Ponzi schemes on record, are welcome to order anything from his menu free of charge, CNN reported Thursday.
"Whatever is on the menu is available to victims of Madoff's scandal ... because I have sympathy for these people," he said. "I was in a similar situation in 2000. I lost all my money in (the) stock market. Losing your life savings is not easy ... No matter how much money you have, if you have $100 million and you lose $100 million, you are completely broke."
The restaurateur said he is offering the free meals despite his own economic woes.
"In seven of my restaurants my business is off 15 to 35 percent," he told CNN.
Rick and Ellen Miller were among the Madoff victims who took Selimaj up on his free meal offer. Rick Miller said to CNN that he and his wife lost "personally about $10 million and our family about $40 (million)."
Selimaj said the offer ends Saturday.