The scheme of the financial pyramid is sufficiently worked out – investors are lured with high dividends, while their funds are not invested in any projects, but serve to pay interest to previous customers. The scheme is constantly expanding, the flow of deposits grows like an avalanche.
At the time when the costs of payments exceed the receipt of new funds, payments cease, and the organizers of the pyramid are rapidly disappearing with the collected money. If in Russia such a scheme is associated with “MMM”, then in the USA it was called the “Ponzi scheme”. It was Carlo Ponzi who became the first known creator of such a structure in 1920.
A young man arrived from Italy to the United States in 1903 without money in his pocket, but with great hopes. Having changed many jobs, Carlo had twice visited the prison for forgery of documents and violation of immigration laws.
Ponzi’s starry hour was his discovery of the possibility of speculation on postage coupons with a profit of as much as 400%. The fact is that these papers could be sold around the world at a single price of a few cents, and the World War moved the exchange rates, then there was a field for speculation. Having learned about such a profitable enterprise, many friends and acquaintances of Carlo joined him, collecting the necessary starting capital. In 1919, the company “Security Exchange Company” was registered, which sold and redeemed debt notes with a yield of 50% in just 90 days. In fact, payment could be received after a month and a half. The source of income was declared the same coupons, but the technology of making profits was declared a secret.
Then everything went according to a known scheme – there was an investment boom, crowds of investors were breaking into offices to give their money. By the summer of 1920 during the week the amount of deposits was a million dollars. Ponzi himself became a real rich man, giving numerous interviews and living in a luxurious mansion. It never entered his head to run.
Law enforcement agencies became interested in Carlo’s activities, but the laws of that time did not allow to stop his activities, especially since the businessman paid the bills on time in time. So, for the first eight months almost $ 10 million was collected, about 80% of them went to payments to depositors. Ponzi’s clients are about 10 thousand people, as well as most of the Boston police.
When an expository article appeared in the press in July 1920, panic began, but Carlo somehow managed to pay off the first wave of creditors, receiving popular love and recognition. However, after only two weeks the auditors announced a disappointing conclusion – the firm of Carlo Ponzi is bankrupt. The legal income of the company was only $ 45, and the notorious coupons were bought only 2 pieces.
In several lawsuits, five banks went bankrupt, and depositors relatively easily got rid of, for each dollar invested, they were able to return 37 cents within eight years. Ponzi was convicted, after his release from prison, continued his career as a fraudster, again sat. Carlo Ponzi died in 1949 in Rio de Janeiro with a fortune of $ 75, which was just enough for his funeral.
This scheme has become very popular, since there are always simpletons, palsy to quick and easy enrichment. In many developed countries, following the example of the United States, there is strict state control over financial activities, so repetition of such a story is simply impossible.
However, there are occasional scandals with the use of a scheme in one form or another. The pyramids were gigantic vacuumed through the countries of the former socialist camp – from Albania to Russia. With the advent of the Internet, scammers were able to offer their services to more people, while maintaining their full anonymity.
The peculiarity of modern pyramid builders is still the desire to save the stolen funds, if earlier used for this purpose by the banks of Switzerland, nowadays scammers resort more and more to the services of offshore companies, which become a sump for dubious companies. One of the most striking examples was the activities of the “First International Bank of Grenada”. It was founded in 1998 by the preacher Gilbert Ziegler, who was also seen as the ambassador of the nonexistent state of Melchizedek.
A statutory fund of 20 million was contributed by a rare ruby. The bank offered credulous Americans 30 to 250% per annum, while the activities of the financial institution outside the island did not come out, because in America it would have to deal with regulatory bodies. Some of the money was spent on bribes by local politicians and auditors. There was even a fictitious insurance organization that guaranteed the safety of deposits.
According to the bank’s reports, its income in 1999 reached 26 billion, and assets amounted to 62 billion, which put the bank on a par with the world’s largest! The auditor, who suspected something wrong, was suspended from his activities, and the FBI information about the dubious activity of the bank of the Grenada authorities was ignored.
But by the summer of 2000, the bank had stopped payments, it turned out that the debts to depositors amounted to about 125 million, and only 900 thousand were returned, which was not enough even for payment of the liquidation commission. And the ruby, which provided the authorized capital, did not exist at all in nature.
The banker-conductor himself disappeared safely. Although the Prime Minister of Grenada promised to clean up the financial sector, in 2002 a new scandal broke out, the bankrupt Imperial Consolidated Group left 300 million more debts.
Today, under the pressure of the United States and Western countries, the governments of offshore companies are struggling in every possible way for their financial purity, there are a number of international commissions and organizations on issues of money laundering. But there is no guarantee that the “Ponzi scheme”, having changed, does not appear in a new place.