I have been called an optimist, a dreamer, a visionary, and everything else, including a crook, probably on account of the fact that I didn’t get away with it, like many of the bankers I know of and like some of the big corporations I know of. If I had, they would have called me a genius; a wizard, without the quotation marks.
— Charles Ponzi, Visionary
 
 

“THE BANK BREAKER”

 

In 1904 an Italian immigrant came to America with less than $3 in his pockets and dreams of becoming a millionaire. He spoke no English and possessed no meaningful connections.  Yet within fifteen years he would speak English better than many native-born Americans and achieve his financial ambitions beyond his wildest expectations. By promoting an investment opportunity so profitable he could afford to pay his investors 50% interest in 90 days, he succeeded in luring thousands into a confidence game that grew so large its eventual demise collapsed multiple Boston Banks.  

That man was Charles Ponzi. So spectacular was his rise, and so ruinous the fall of his “investment”, the episode would quickly become quintessential. Charles Ponzi had almost perfected the perfect “robbing Peter to Pay Paul” con and so subsequent imitations quickly became known as “Ponzi Schemes”.

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*THE BANK BREAKER based on extensive original research as published in the 2008 text “Who is Charles Ponzi?”