His fraud worked like this: Belfort gave his brokers—often young people who didn't even need a high school diploma—a pitch speech for clients. Twice a day he'd fire them up to make calls.
Their targets were usually well-to-do individuals who were pitched a traditional blue chip stock first, in order to make Stratton Oakmont seem legitimate. Then they were pitched a little known IPO. Belfort owned shares of iffy companies going public and would sell them to clients as prices neared their peaks. Clients would continue to make money for about six to eight months, before shares almost always collapsed, wiping them out.
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A constant turnover in clients kept Belfort and his staff swimming in millions. He spent his fortune lavishly on Coco Chanel's former yacht (which he later sank in a storm while high on Quaaludes), a Long Island mansion once owned by former NYSE Chairman and CEO Richard Grasso, and drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.
At one point, Belfort said he was using 22 different drugs in order to balance everything out.
"It was insane," he said.