by Nomi Prins
NY Daily News
As Charles Ponzi wrote in his autobiography, “The Rise of Mr. Ponzi,” “We all crave easy money. And plenty of it. If we didn’t, no get-rich-quick-scheme could be successful.”
Ponzi was onto something that’s worth remembering in this era of GameStop, Reddit, Robinhood, investor revolts and their backlash, and not just about the time-honored notion of robbing Peter to pay Paul. He’d tapped into raw elements of human nature. In 1920, he fashioned a get-rich-quick-scheme that contained a perfect cocktail of credibility mixed with enticing reasons to suspend judgment. This was at a time when the United States was facing an economic depression in the aftermath of a brutal World War and a tragic global pandemic.
The people in Boston who bought into Ponzi’s scheme were both rich and poor. The dream attached to his pitch served as the great equalizer. They wanted to believe in Ponzi’s ability to make them richer, or at least, to suspend disbelief in his scheme for doing so.