How Ponzi schemes work ?

Charles Ponzi (March 3, 1882 – January 18, 1949), was an Italian swindler and con artist in the U.S. and Canada. Born and raised in Italy, he became known in the early 1920s as a swindler in North America for his money-making scheme. He promised clients a 50% profit within 45 days, or 100% profit within 90 days.

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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 over a year before it collapsed, costing his “investors” $20 million.

Charles Ponzi wasn’t the first to implement such a scam. However, he stood out from the rest of the petty crooks because of the amount of money he raked in — which totaled millions of dollars — and the number of people he swindled.

Ponzi scheme basics

Though it landed him in jail, Charles Ponzi’s infamous scam spawned many imitators. The get-rich-quick scheme has proved too alluring for other scoundrels to pass up. However, these imitators need not use the front of international reply coupons to make it work. 

The basic framework of a Ponzi scheme can be applied and reapplied in countless contexts. The scheme revolves around the process of paying old investors with the money you get from new investors. The central method remains the same. All one has to do is hook a few investors who are willing to get in early on a once-in-a-lifetime business venture. The details of the investment don’t matter too much. What suckers people in is the promise of fantastic returns on investments.

After the schemer has convinced a handful of investors to fork over money, those funds can bankroll a nice car, if the schemer is truly sneaky, he or she can use it to rent office space and buy some fancy furniture. These props will help con the next round of investors. Now, he or she is ready to find more investors. This time, the schemer takes a slice off the top for himself or herself and uses the rest to pay off the first rung of investors with some initial returns. 

Eventually, the second rung of investors will need its payout. This is a simple matter of wash, rinse and repeat: The money from a newly recruited third rung of investors can pay off the second rung and deliver more returns to the first rung. 

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But as the cycle goes on, it gets more complicated. Earlier rungs of investors will get suspicious if they don’t continue to see returns. New investors will have to be paid back their initial investment, and the schemer will have to appease them with regular returns. This means that new investors will have to be added to the Ponzi scheme continuously in order to pay all the previous rungs. The schemer is under an enormous amount of pressure to keep adding investors, and one person can only do so much. The scheme will eventually become unsustainable.. The upside-down house of cards the schemer has built will finally collapse. 

Ponzi schemes vs Pyramid schemes – What’s the difference?

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Many people associate Ponzi schemes with pyramid schemes.  While they do share some similarities, they’re not exactly the same. If you think about the organization and methodology behind a Ponzi scheme, it certainly has a triangular structure. The schemer sits at the top, above continually increasing rungs of investors. However, there are fundamental differences between how classic pyramid schemes are carried out and how Ponzi schemes are executed. 

The essential difference between a pyramid scheme and a Ponzi scheme is that a Ponzi schemer will only ask you to invest in something. You won’t be asked to take any more action than handing over money. He or she will claim to take care of the rest and give you your returns later. The Ponzi schemer is the mastermind behind the whole system and is always shuffling money from one place to another.

On the other hand, a pyramid schemer will offer you an opportunity to make the money yourself. It requires more work, though: You have to buy the right to start a franchise and start recruiting more people like yourself. The recruits will often pay the recruiter a cut of their profits.

The difference may seem slight, but one point to keep in mind is that unlike pyramid schemes, Ponzi schemes are always illegal. Some legitimate businesses, such as Mary Kay and The Pampered Chef, have been built around the pyramid idea. But the nature of a Ponzi scheme necessarily relies on securities fraud. It involves deceit to convince someone to invest money that won’t actually be invested.

Nevertheless, some people continue to use the terms interchangeably, and many texts classify Ponzi schemes as a type of pyramid scheme. And, of course, when you’re the victim of one, the difference probably seems insignificant.

In Cryptocurrency space, Ponzi schemes like Bitconnect, Onecoin and many ICOs.

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