search newsletter login upgrade

The Logbook: The Ponzi scheme before Charles Ponzi

by Steven Zheng

September 11, 2019, 5:39PM EDT  ·  4 min read

Quick Take

  • While the Ponzi scheme gets its name from Charles Ponzi, the infamous con-artist was often cited as taking inspiration from William Miller
  • Miller started one of the first publicly reported Ponzi schemes years before Charles Ponzi
  • Almost 3,000 investors were defrauded out of ~$25 million by Miller

by Steven Zheng

September 11, 2019, 5:39PM EDT  ·  4 min read

Most people have heard of Charles Ponzi, the namesake behind the infamous Ponzi scheme. However, the concept of the Ponzi scheme was not invited by Charles Ponzi himself. Before Ponzi ran his scheme — costing investors over $20 million — there was another individual who some have cited as the inspiration for Ponzi, his name was William “520 percent” Miller.