The Man Behind the Ponzi Scheme

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photoBefore Charles Ponzi left Italy for America in 1903, his father assured him that the streets were really paved with gold — and that Ponzi would be able to get a piece. Though Ponzi discovered the truth to be otherwise, he still wanted to make a fortune.

Ponzi, however, didn't have the patience or discipline to work his way up into middle class. Besides, middle class wasn't where he wanted to go anyway.

What the small-time Italian immigrant did have was pluck and charm, which he used to hatch a get-rich-quick scheme that could not possibly succeed. Known as "robbing Peter to pay Paul," Charles Ponzi launched it openly in Boston in 1920.

Hear a conversation with author Mitchell Zuckoff about hucksters, dreamers, and the man behind the Ponzi scheme.


Mitchell Zuckoff, professor of journalism at Boston University and former reporter for the Boston Globe. His new book is "Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend.";
Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and senior editor at the Atlantic Monthly magazine.

This program aired on April 12, 2005.


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