Nearly 90 years before financier Bernard Madoff confessed to a $50 billion fraud, Charles Ponzi swindled millions of dollars from duped investors. The Italian immigrant, whose name is synonymous with the pyramid scheme, pleaded guilty to mail fraud in 1920 and served three-and-a-half years in federal prison. Ponzi died in 1949 at age 66.
And Charles Ponzi (inventor of the type of financial fraud named after him, whereby early investors are paid off with later investorsâ€™ monies, luring more inâ€”just like the immigration enthusiastsâ€™ fantasy of how immigrants will bail out the Social Security system. Ben Wattenberg was still repeating this in his syndicated column in late 1995, despite Alien Nationâ€™s conclusive refutation, p. 153-4).