The True Story Behind ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese, is a darkly humorous picture of unbridled Wall Street hedonism and greed that rates among the maestro’s most significant works of the last decade.

As with all true-crime films, some liberties were taken with Jordan Belfort’s life and misdeeds, such as employing Jonah Hill’s Donnie Azoff character as a stand-in for multiple real-world acquaintances of Belfort’s.

Overall, the film is astonishingly realistic and undoubtedly depicts the basic facts of Belfort’s 2007 memoir, which served as the film’s primary source material.

Who exactly is Jordan Belfort?

Jordan Belfort is a former stockbroker, motivational speaker, author, and financial criminal from the United States. In 1999, he was charged with fraud and money laundering in connection with his firm Stratton Oakmont’s market manipulation activities, which cost investors millions of dollars.

Jordan Belfort’s childhood

Jordan Belfort was born in New York City’s Bronx in 1962 to Jewish parents who were both accountants. BelfortWhen Belfort was about 16 years old; he made $20,000 on the side by selling Italian ice from styrofoam coolers at a nearby beach with a childhood friend who also sold Italian ice.

Personal life of Jordan Belfort

Jordan Belfort’s professional life was turbulent, and he had a penchant for unscrupulous tactics, but his personal life was no better. Belfort got divorced from his first wife, Denise Lombardo while running his company Stratton Oakmont. Jordan Belfort’s first wife, Denise Lombardo, was portrayed in the film “Wolf of Wall Street” by Cristin Milioti.

Jordan Belfort’s Sales Career

Jordan Belfort, 23, started out as a door-to-door meat and seafood salesman on New York’s Long Island, dreaming of becoming wealthy. He expanded his company to a fleet of vehicles and numerous staff, moving 5,000 pounds of beef and fish every week.

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The Wall Street Journal

In the aftermath of the failure of the meat and seafood business, Belfort shifted his focus to Wall Street, where he worked as a trainee stockbroker at L.F. Rothschild. He was later let go after the company ran into financial difficulties as a result of the 1987 Black Monday stock market meltdown.

Oakmont Stratton

Jordan Belfort eventually landed at Investor Center, a modest Long Island brokerage firm, in 1988. There, he was introduced to penny stocks (high-risk securities with small market caps that often trade for a cheap price over-the-counter (OTC) and are thus less regulated than equities traded on a significant market exchange), which would catapult him to success later on.

Books by Jordan Belfort

Belfort wrote two memoirs, “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Catching the Wolf of Wall Street,” which were published in almost 40 countries and translated into 18 languages. Jordan Belfort published his self-help book “Way of the Wolf” in 2017.

Speaking on motivation

Belfort eventually reinvented himself as a motivational speaker. When he first started speaking, he mainly focused on financial motivation and ethics, but he later shifted his attention to practical sales skills and entrepreneurship.

The boiler room of Jordan Belfort

Ronald L. Rubin, the SEC enforcement attorney tasked to build the case against Steven Madden, acquired a firsthand account from Jordan Belfort and Porush as “cooperating witnesses,” in which they detailed how they utilized their brokerage firm to steal millions of dollars from investors.

Rubin deconstructs Belfort’s signature fraud scheme into five steps:

  • Make an IPO stock
  • Arrange the Victims
  • Switch and Bait
  • Manipulation of the market
  • Sell high and close the door

Jordan Belfort’s methods are described.

Let us now go over the many financial schemes in which Jordan Belfort and Stratton Oakmont were involved, including a boiler room, pump-and-dump operation, and money laundering.

The boiler room

A boiler room is a business where brokers use high-pressure sales tactics to induce investors to buy securities based on fraudulent or misleading premises. The majority of boiler room salespeople make cold calls to potential investors.

Pumping and dumping

A pump-and-dump strategy, similar to a boiler room operation, is a deceptive scheme to raise the price of a security by making false, misleading, or substantially overstated statements. Fraudsters typically utilize cold calling, message boards, or social media in a pump-and-dump scheme.

Laundering of funds

Money laundering is the illegal practice of concealing the source of money earned through unlawful acts, i.e. making “dirty” money appear genuine. Laundering money typically consists of three steps:

  • Injection of “bad money” into a natural (cash-based) financial institution
  • Layering is the process of concealing the source of funds through a succession of transactions and bookkeeping methods
  • Integration entails withdrawing “clean” money when needed

To summarize

Overall, Belfort’s notoriety has proven profitable. He has risen from the ashes of his fraudulent business to build a new one by capitalizing on the media’s adoration and preoccupation with him as the epitome of Wall Street greed.


“The Wolf of Wall Street,” directed by Martin Scorsese, offers a darkly humorous portrayal of Wall Street excess and greed, based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir. It depicts Belfort’s rise as a stockbroker, his fraudulent practices, and the consequences of his actions.

The film highlights various financial schemes, including boiler room operations and money laundering. Despite the controversy, it remains a significant work in Scorsese’s filmography.

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