It takes a lot of effort to be a billionaire. Some folks do it within legal framework, whereas others like the ‘breaking bad’ way. In case of the latter, one option that is always available is Ponzi schemes. The term ‘Ponzi’ comes from Charles Ponzi, an Italian businessman who is considered as the first to launch such a scheme.
Despite being highly publicized in the media, many people still fall for such scams. They are either unaware or it is just greed that takes control, ignoring all the risks. For better understanding, here’s a look at some of the biggest Ponzi schemes of all time.
Reed Slatkin – The first investor and co-founder of EarthLink, Reed Slatkin collected around $593 million in a Ponzi scheme. The funds were sourced from around 800 wealthy investors. The Ponzi scheme was carried out during the period from 1986 to 2001. Reed Slatkin was charged with various crimes such as money laundering, wire fraud, mail fraud and obstruction of justice. He was sent to federal prison for a term of 14 years.
Scott W. Rothstein – Currently serving a 50-year prison sentence, Scott W. Rothstein had collected around $1.2 billion via a Ponzi scheme. He used to work as a lawyer, but has been debarred after his conviction. He also had a law firm with offices in several prominent cities. With the money collected via the Ponzi scheme, Scott lived a lavish lifestyle. He owned a Boeing 727 jet and once flew with Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey, and Chris Tucker as part of an anti-AIDS mission in Africa. He also owned various luxury cars, watches and donated money as philanthropy and political contributions.
Thomas Joseph Petters – Former chairman and CEO of Petters Group Worldwide, Thomas Joseph Petters had stolen around $3.65 billion via Ponzi schemes. He has been convicted for mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Thomas is currently serving a 50-year term in prison. He had a legit business once, but later he started to raise funds via multiple Ponzi schemes. The scam was a complex chain of investment firms, acquisitions, retail orders and collaterals.
Robert Allen Stanford – A former financier, Robert Allen Stanford has been convicted for his involvement in a $8 billion Ponzi scheme. He also used to work as a sponsor of professional sports. He is currently serving a 110-year prison term in federal prison. The Ponzi scheme primarily involved certificates of deposit, wherein the Stanford International Bank continually promised higher-than-market returns to depositors.
Bernie Madoff – The world is still waiting to beat Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme record, which is estimated to be around $64.8 billion. It is the largest Ponzi scheme ever in the world. There was a time when Bernie used to work as the chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange. He used to operate asset management and stock brokerage businesses. Much of the Ponzi scheme operated by Bernie Madoff was in the asset management business.