Charles Ponzi: The Man Who “Started” It All.
Charles Ponzi is perhaps one of the most famous conmen in history.
In this article, the main focus will be on his life.
Carlo Pietro Giovanni Guglielmo Tebaldo Ponzi (1882–1949) was born in Lugo, Italy. He had five siblings, and his parents, Imelda, and Oreste Ponzi were middle-class merchants, with his father owning a grocery store.
Although one might say that his family was of humble origins, the opposite was true. His mother had the title “Donna” which indicated that they were royal offspring. Charle’s mother repeatedly told him that he would be the person who would bring their family back to their rightful position in nobility. This idea was Charle’s inspiration and drive.
Ponzi dropped out of school at the age of 13, at a time when not many people had the privilege to attend, and began working. He traveled throughout Italy and even briefly emigrated to the United States when he was 18 years old, but he returned to Italy shortly thereafter.
His excessive spending and pricey taste would often leave him without any money at all. Ponzi lived in the era before the Great Depression, and thus there was Euphoria everywhere after all. Everyone wanted to become the next John D. Rockefeller or J.P. Morgan.
In 1903, at the age of 21, Ponzi decided to try his luck again in the United States, this time settling in Boston. He arrived with only $2.50 in his pocket and could not speak English. He worked as a dishwasher and waiter, before finding work as a clerk at a bank in Canada with Italian ownership.
Banco Zarossi in Montreal was a small bank of Italian origin that would get the money of its customers and would promise them a 2% return for their savings. The bank would then invest in Italian securities that would yield around 3% and pay the remaining 2% back to its customers, keeping the extra 1% as its profit
When the bank came into financial trouble due to competition, it would promise a higher percentage return by following the “robbing Peter to pay Paul" scheme…