3 Famous Financial Schemers in History

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Carlo Ponzi

3 Famous Financial Schemers in History

To celebrate the premiere of A Private Affair, a Dutch drama about a woman decided to change the darkness in the world’s financial system, we wanted to remember some of the most famous financial fraudsters in history. Their schemes should remind us all of who to trust our money with.

Carlo Ponzi

Charles Ponzi was an Italian immigrant who arrived in the United States in 1903 with little to no money. Seventeen years later, he invented the first modern large-scale fraud scheme, which turned him into a multi-millionaire and a public figure in the span of a few months, before ruining him just as quickly. His money-making scheme promised clients a 50% profit within 45 days or 100% profit within 90 days, by buying discounted postal reply coupons in other countries and redeeming them at face value in the U.S. as a form of arbitrage. Ponzi’s life was adapted to cinema in the film Ponzi’s Scheme.

Bernie Madoff

Probably the most famous financial fraudster of modern history, Madoff made it to the headlines for his dishonest dealings. Madoff is an American former market maker, investment advisor, financier and convicted fraudster, currently serving a federal prison sentence for offenses related to a massive Ponzi scheme. He is the former non-executive chairman of the NASDAQ stock market, the confessed operator of the largest Ponzi scheme in world history, and the largest financial fraud in U.S. history. Prosecutors estimated the fraud to be worth $64.8 billion based on the amounts in the accounts of Madoff's 4,800 clients as of November 30, 2008.  On June 29, 2009, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison, the maximum allowed.

Kazutsugi Nami

He is not widely known worldwide but Nami became one of the most hated men in Japan for his frauds. While most financial scams of a big scale target investment funds and the wealthy, Nami’s preyed instead on the everyman, as he defrauded some 37,000 people of 1.4 billion dollars. Nami wooed investors with promises of a financial safe haven in the form of a make-believe digital currency he dubbed Enten. The businessman assured interested parties that the currency would gain in value once the world’s economies collapsed, what’s more guaranteeing them a 36 percent annual return. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison on March 18, 2010, for what many believe to be the biggest investment scam in Japan’s history.

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Bernie Madoff

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Kazutsugi Nami

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