Best Known For
Charles Ponzi was best known for the financial crimes he committed when he conned investors into giving him millions of dollars, and paid them returns with other investors' money.
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He promised investors outrageous returns of 50 percent in 45 days, or 100 percent in 90 days. Ponzi paid these investors using money from other investors, rather than with actual profit—as in the criminal scheme of Bernie Madoff.
Ponzi's manipulation made him very rich—he bought a mansion in Lexington, Massachusetts, with air conditioning and a heated swimming pool. He reportedly made $250,000 a day.
Ponzi's scheme began to unravel in August 1920, when The Boston Post began to investigate his returns. The investigation set off a run on Ponzi's company, with investors trying to pull their money out of it.
Charles Ponzi was arrested on August 12, 1920, and charged with 86 counts of mail fraud. Owing an estimated $7 million, he pleaded guilty to mail fraud, and subsequently spent 14 years in prison. Rose divorced him in 1937, and Ponzi died penniless in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on January 18, 1949.
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Despite their high economic standing, these white-collar criminals, arrested for a variety of crimes, proved not to be above the law. Explore Biography.com's collection of white-collar criminals for more on the likes of Charles Ponzi, Raj Rajaratnam, Bernard Ebbers, Jeffrey Skilling, Kenneth Lay, Ivan Boesky, Bernard Madoff, Jordan Belfort and many more.
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