12 Aug: Ponzi Gets Busted

The ‘Get Rich Quick’ scheme pioneered by scamster Charles Ponzi came to an end with his arrest on 12th August, 1920 – but ‘Ponzi schemes’ remain a popular form of swindling to this day. 

After promising his victims he could double their money in 90 days, Ponzi was charged with 86 counts of mail-fraud – yet he may not have even initially realized his scheme was illegal.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly consider whether Cryptocurrency is the modern-day Ponzi scheme; explain the difference between a Ponzi scheme and a Pyramid scheme; and reveal the ingenious way Ponzi told his Mum he was in prison… 

If you enjoyed this episode, there are FOUR BONUS MINUTES of material, cut for time from today’s episode, about Ponzi’s subsequent adventures in Florida and Brazil. Subscribe to our top two tiers on Patreon to receive access to this, and bonus material each and every week, plus an ad-free feed of the podcast:


Further Reading:

• ‘Pyramid Schemes and Ponzi Schemes Explained in One Minute’ (One Minute Economics, 2016):

• ‘How Charles Ponzi’s Scheme Made Him A Millionaire Overnight’ (All Thats Interesting, 2020): ​​https://allthatsinteresting.com/charles-ponzi

• ‘The History of Ponzi Schemes Goes Deeper Than You Think’ (Time, 2020): https://time.com/5877434/first-ponzi-scheme/