Charles Ponzi

Charles Ponzi, was an Italian born con artist based out of the United States and Canada. Born and raised in Lugo Italy, he became internationally famous in the early 1920s as a con man for his money-making scheme. He promised clients a 50% profit within 45 days, or 100% profit within 90 days, by buying discounted postal reply coupons in Europe and redeeming them at face value in the United States as a form of financial arbitrage. In reality, Ponzi was paying earlier investors using the investments of later investors.

While this type of fraudulent investment scheme was not originally invented by Ponzi, it became so identified with him that it now is referred to as a “Ponzi scheme”. His scheme ran for just under a year before it collapsed, costing his “investors” $20 million.

This history channel style documentary tells the full story of Charles Ponzi, from his childhood in Italy, through to the heights of his fame in Boston Massachusetts, through to his prison sentence, deportation, and his life after the scheme collapsed. In this film the Ponzi scheme is explained along with how it differs from a pyramid scheme.

The film is written and narrated by Patrick Boyle, a fund manager and finance professor at King’s College London.

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