The scheme of the financial pyramid has been worked out enough - depositors are lured with high dividends, while their funds are not invested in any projects, but are used to pay interest to previous clients. The scheme is constantly expanding, the flow of deposits grows like an avalanche.
At the moment when the cost of payments exceeds the receipt of new funds, payments are stopped, and the organizers of the pyramid rapidly disappear with the collected money. If in Russia such a scheme is associated with "MMM", then in the USA it was called "Ponzi scheme". It was Carlo Ponzi who became the first known creator of such a structure in 1920.
The young man arrived from Italy to the United States in 1903 with no money in his pocket, but with great hopes. Having changed many jobs, Carlo managed to go to prison twice for forgery and violation of immigration laws.
Ponzi's finest hour was opening up the possibility of speculation on postage coupons with a profit of as much as 400%. The fact is that these securities could be sold all over the world at a single price of several cents, and the World War shifted the exchange rates, and this was where the field for speculation appeared.
Having learned about such a profitable venture, many of Carlo's friends and acquaintances joined him, collecting the necessary start-up capital. In 1919, the Security Exchange Company was registered, which sold and repaid promissory notes with a yield of 50% in just 90 days. In fact, the payment could be received within a month and a half. The same coupons were announced as the source of income, but the technology of making a profit was declared a secret.
Then everything proceeded according to the well-known scheme - there was an investment rush, crowds of depositors burst into offices to give away their money. By the summer of 1920, within a week, the amount of deposits amounted to one million dollars. Ponzi himself became a real rich man, giving numerous interviews and living in a luxurious mansion. It never crossed his mind to hit the run.
Law enforcement agencies became interested in Carlo's activities, but the laws of that time did not allow to suppress his activities, especially since the businessman paid the bills on time. So, in the first eight months, almost $ 10 million was collected, about 80% of which went to payments to depositors. About 10 thousand people became Ponzi's clients, as well as most of the Boston police.
When a revelatory article appeared in the press in July 1920, panic began, but Carlo somehow managed to pay off the first wave of creditors, gaining popular love and recognition. However, after only two weeks, the auditors announced a disappointing conclusion - the firm of Carlo Ponzi is bankrupt. The company's legal income was only $ 45, and only 2 coupons were purchased.
In the course of several lawsuits, five banks went bankrupt, and depositors got off relatively easily, for every dollar they invested, they were able to return 37 cents within eight years. Ponzi was convicted, after his release from prison, he continued his career as a fraudster, again in prison. Carlo Ponzi died in 1949 in Rio de Janeiro with a fortune of $ 75, which was just enough for his funeral.
This scheme has become very popular, as there are always simpletons who are greedy for quick and easy enrichment. In many developed countries, following the example of the United States, there is strict state control over financial activities, so a repetition of such a story is simply impossible.
However, scandals periodically erupt with the use of the scheme in one form or another. A giant vacuum cleaner swept the pyramids through the countries of the former socialist camp - from Albania to Russia. With the advent of the Internet, fraudsters have been able to offer their services to more people, while maintaining their complete anonymity.
A feature of modern pyramid builders is still the desire to save the stolen funds, if earlier Swiss banks were used for this, now more and more swindlers resort to the services of offshore companies, which become a settler for dubious companies. One of the striking examples was the activities of the First International Bank of Grenada. It was founded in 1998 by the preacher Gilbert Ziegler, who also introduced himself as the ambassador of the non-existent Melchizedek state.
The statutory fund of 20 million was contributed by a rare ruby. The bank offered gullible Americans from 30 to 250% per annum, while the activities of the financial institution did not go outside the island, since in America they would have to deal with regulatory authorities. Some of the money went to bribe local politicians and auditors. There was even a fictitious insurance organization that guaranteed the safety of deposits.
According to the bank's reporting, its income in 1999 reached 26 billion, and its assets amounted to 62 billion, which placed the bank on a par with the world's largest! The auditor, who suspected something was wrong, was removed from activity, and the authorities of Grenada ignored the information of the FBI about the dubious activities of the bank.
But by the summer of 2000, the bank stopped payments, it turned out that the debts to depositors were about 125 million, but only 900 thousand were returned, which was not enough even to pay the liquidation commission. And the ruby, which provided the authorized capital, did not exist at all in nature.
The banker-conductor himself safely disappeared. Although the Prime Minister of Grenada promised to restore order in the financial sector, a new scandal broke out in 2002, the bankrupt Imperial Consolidated Group left behind a debt of 300 million.
Today, under pressure from the United States and Western countries, offshore governments are fighting in every possible way for their financial purity; there are a number of international commissions and organizations on the problems of money laundering. But there is no guarantee that the "Ponzi scheme", having changed, will not appear in a new place.