Summary of Ponzi's Scheme

The True Story of a Financial Legend

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Ponzi's Scheme book summary
Hate people who fleece others to line their own pockets? Blame Ponzi – the guy who took the pyramid scam to new levels.


8 Overall

5 Applicability

7 Innovation

10 Style


Nowadays, the phrase "Ponzi scheme" is applied to everything from putrid boiler-room operations to the housing boom. That makes it instructive to take a look at the phrase’s actual namesake. Charles Ponzi was a con man, to be sure, but he also was a gifted promoter and cheerful dreamer who captured the shadiest side of the American spirit. In this fascinating, novelistic account of Ponzi’s meteoric rise and inevitable fall, journalist Mitchell Zuckoff painstakingly recreates the 1920 zeitgeist that allowed Ponzi to delude and scam so many investors. Times have changed, but the underlying human nature that allowed Ponzi to raise so much cash remains the same. recommends this page-turning history to investors who want to be equipped to spot hype and scams designed to lure the gullible.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How infamous scoundrel Charles Ponzi perpetrated a precedent-setting pyramid scam;
  • How Ponzi deluded thousands of investors who lost millions of dollars; and
  • How he took advantage of a certain high-flying time in U.S. financial history.


Seeking Streets Paved with Gold
The name of Charles Ponzi has become synonymous with financial chicanery. A penniless Italian immigrant, Ponzi drifted around the U.S. for years before launching his Securities Exchange Corporation, a scam that became famous for its audacity. Ponzi’s scam...
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About the Author

Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor of journalism at Boston University and a former reporter at The Boston Globe, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Zuckoff’s previous books include Choosing Naia and Judgment Ridge.

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