Largest Ponzi schemes in history

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_ William "520 Percent" Miller of Brooklyn, N.Y., claimed in 1899 he had inside information on stocks and promised interest of 10 percent a week. He defrauded investors out of $1 million.

_ Charles Ponzi, an Italian immigrant in Boston, ran a bogus investment scheme in 1919-20 involving postal currency. As many as 20,000 people invested $8 million to $10 million. He spent time in prison before being deported in 1934.

_ Lou Pearlman, the mastermind behind the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, operated a $300 million stock and investment scam. He was sentenced earlier this year to 25 years behind bars.

_ James Paul Lewis Jr. told investors he made money by buying and selling distressed businesses, leasing equipment to medical offices and financing medical insurance premiums. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison for a scheme that ran from 1985 to 2003 and cost nearly 3,300 investors around $70 million....

Blog Comment by Ralph Luker at Cliopatria

The AP's record of the biggest Ponzi-schemes in history misses two of the most spectacular, according to Josh Marshall: Richard Whitney and Ivar Kreuger. They both made Charles Ponzi look like a piker; and Bernie Madoff makes all of them look almost like honest men.

Read entire article at AP

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Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 3/16/2009

The biggest by far is the U.S. Social Security System. The others are not in that ballpark.