A Ponzi scheme offers investors high returns if they put their money in a promising enterprise. But the return is paid by recruiting new investors rather than through actual profit, resulting in a chain of deception. The scheme was named for Italian businessman Charles Ponzi, whose 1920s scheme was the first big-bucks operation to attract the country’s attention. Here’s a look at the men who followed in his footsteps.
Charles Ponzi In this Jan. 20, 1935 photo, Charles Ponzi is shown in the garden of his home in Rome after being deported from the United States. Ponzi was an Italian immigrant who cheated investors in Boston out of about $10 million in 1919 and 1920 in a short-lived scheme involving the use of outdated exchange rates for European currency. Ponzi was convicted of mail fraud in 1920 and served time in prison before being deported. /AP Buy Photo