Italian man Charles Ponzi is considered to be the founder of the first financial pyramid. Ponzi was born on the 3rd of March, 1882, in city Lugo, in the North of Italy, not far from Ravenna. Information about his childhood and youth years are rather hazy and disputable. It’s only known that when Ponzi was giving an interview to newspaper The New York Times, he told a rather beautiful story about his well-to-do family, noble origin and about the education received in the University of Rome. But Ponzi studied in the university not long, for a few months.
Other sources, including information received during the court examination of Ponzi in 1920, contend that his father was a post worker. And according to the unchecked data, his father was a card-sharper who had squandered all his fortune. At least now it becomes clear wherefrom Charles Ponzi has got inclinations of a swindler.
Ponzi had always differed with his craving for money and ardour. Losing all money in playing cards, in 1903 he arrived to America with 2,5 dollars in his pocket. On his arrival to the USA, Ponzi worked as a translator, waiter, clerk and even a washer, but all this did not bring him special profit. He was twice imprisoned for fraud and forgery.
Later success starts gradually smiling to Ponzi. He invented a new way of earning money – by means of making manipulations with postal reply coupons. After The First World War devaluation of European currencies in relation to a dollar took place, therefore buying postal reply coupons in Europe, one could profitably sell them in the USA. This business did not bring special profit though, but served as protection in future.
And in 1919 Charles borrowed 200 dollars from his acquaintance and opened a company on the exchange of securities («The Securities Exchange Company») in Boston. The company was giving out the receipts to the depositors and promised to pay 1500$ for each 1000$ during only 90 days. In fact, it was one of the first pyramids. During three months of activity SEC, the capital of the pyramid exceeded 3 million dollars. Ponzi buys an expensive mansion and enjoys life of the rich person, and he passes direction of the company into the hands of eighteen-year old Lucy Martelli.
But in summer, 1920, Daniels, an acquaintance who had lent some money to Charles, files action on Ponzi. Despite the fact that he got back 200 dollars, he requires also 50% of the company’s income. Because of the trial, payments for the depositors freeze, and the company crashes. Crowds of not satisfied depositors willing to take their deposits, haunt the thresholds of the company but in vain; and at this time «The Securities Exchange Company» is announced a bankrupt.
In August, 1920, Charles Ponzi is arrested. The result of examination of the company determined that its payments debt is $2 million. On the 30th of October of this year, the court acknowledged Charles Ponzi a swindler and condemned him for 5 years. Serving his sentence, Ponzi doesn’t stop swindling, and in 1934 he is deported back to Italy. The last years of his life the discoverer of the pyramid building works as a translator, and then as a representative of the «Italian airlines».
Charles Ponzi died in 1949, in the charity department of the hospital of Rio de Janeiro. The man who created the first financial pyramid was buried for 75 dollars found in his pocket after his death. We inherited the scheme from Ponzi that is used by pyramid-builders even today. The most famous of them are Bernard Madoff and Sergey Mavrodi. We’re going to speak about them in particular in the next articles.
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