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Protecting Your Investments from Ponzi Schemes

Posted by CFTC Staff /
Man fishing for retirement savings

Since Charles Ponzi first made the scheme famous in the 1920s, investors have lost billions to the schemes that bear Ponzi’s name. Despite the elaborate sounding name, a Ponzi scheme is a false promise of high returns for an investment product that doesn’t exist where the money taken from investors is used to pay off other investors. Of course, this scheme only works if more investors are taken, and once the stream of new investors stops, the scheme collapses under the weight of false promises.

While many investors know about Ponzi schemes, many believe that they cannot become a victim of such scams. The many well-known, savvy investors who lost money to these schemes over the past several years indicate otherwise. Former CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton understands the threat posed by these schemers and wrote a book to help expose the schemers lifestyle and approach.

In Ponzimonium—How Scam Artists are Ripping Off America, he tells the fascinating stories of ten Ponzi scams that took place in 2009. “These are real cases, real fraudsters, with unfortunately, very real victims,” Chilton writes. The book also captures, in words and pictures, a behind-the-scenes look at the lifestyles of the schemers.

The informed investor understands how schemers work. This book provides a first hand account of the mindset of those who create Ponzi schemes and reading it will help investors avoid being taken by these scams. Ponzimonium is a CFTC publication available for sale by the Government Printing Office online. It may also be purchased online at and Neither Chilton nor the CFTC, make any profit from the sale.

Remember to check your financial professional’s background at CFTC SmartCheck

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