Bernard Madoff is indebted to many people, perhaps (allegedly) none more than Charles Ponzi, the innovator of the scheme that bears his name. Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend traces the meteoric rise and fall of Charles Ponzi during the roaring twenties. The Italian immigrant, who was quite the charmer, managed to convince investors to buy notes that promised 50 percent returns once cashed in 90 days. In less than a year, Ponzi became a millionaire and member of the Boston elite. It didn’t last long. The press began snooping in his records and uncovered what they then called a "robbing Peter to pay Paul" scheme. Madoff likely faces a similar fate as Ponzi: financial ruin, jail time, and a long line of angry investors. But as this book argues, there’s no substitute for the original.
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