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GREAT FALLS - At least 33 Montana investors lost at least $18 million in Bernard Madoff's estimated $50 billion Ponzi scheme, the state auditor's office said.

Lynne Egan, chief of securities examinations and licensing, said an investment adviser contacted her to report the losses incurred by himself and his clients, including his 94-year-old mother, 95-year-old aunt and his brother and sister.

Egan declined to name the adviser, saying he's devastated

"He's licensed with this office," Egan said last week. "He lost money, and so did his clients. They are wiped out, and he is devastated.

"This is a man who has had several conversations with Madoff himself about how his fund could produce such good returns in a down market," she said.

Egan said the adviser's clients have had money invested with Madoff since 2002 and had been receiving a monthly income from the investment.

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With a confirmed victim in Montana, Egan can now ask for a full list of Montana investors who lost money. Egan said she expects there will be more Montana victims.

"We are going to do a parallel investigation," she said. "Now that the case is in bankruptcy, there may not be a whole lot we can do, but we'll do what we can. We can't unwind the clock, but we can learn from this."

Madoff, 70, is accused of running a giant Ponzi scheme for decades, paying returns to certain investors out of the money received from others. He has estimated the total fraud at $50 billion.

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