Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Amazing Investment Opportunity! High Return! No Risk!

Swindles and swindlers are fascinating—and they can have a big impact on their victims, both individuals and institutions.

The Ponzi Scheme Puzzle: A History and Analysis of Con Artists and Victims (2012) is a new book by law professor Tamar Frankel. She draws on accounts (in court cases, news stories, and elsewhere) of hundreds of scams to examine the perpetrators, the schemes, and the victims. She also dips into some psychological studies. The epilogue offers a few tips on how to avoid being scammed. A quick summary: heed the old saying, "If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is."

The publisher's page is here (includes summary, reviews, table of contents).

The catalog record is here. The book is available on campus at HV6691 .F73 2012 in Suzzallo/Allen Stacks.  

Ponzi's Scheme book jacket
Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend (2005), by Mitchell Zuckoff, doesn't try to address hundreds of Ponzi schemes but focuses on just one: the one that gave the scheme its name.

I liked the story of the Carlo/Charles Ponzi, the Italian teenager with rich tastes who immigrated to America in the early 1900s hoping to make it big. He bounced around, working at (and hating) menial jobs, doing time for check forgery, working in a logging camp's office, and more.

With his Securities Exchange Company (which used deposits from later investors to pay the earlier investors), he had a wild run of success in 1920 and lived the elegant lifestyle he'd dreamed of. Thousands of investors (particularly in the Boston area) loved his charm and style—until they realized they'd lost their life savings.

Even though the modern reader knows that Ponzi's "business" isn't sustainable, the author generates suspense as the bank examiner, the state attorney general, and the local district attorney move closer and closer to Ponzi. (Spoiler alert: he's caught and prosecuted.)

The publisher's page is here.

The catalog record is here. The book is available on campus at HV6692.P66 Z83 2005 in the Odegaard Undergraduate Library.

photo of hand holding a Kindle
You can also check it out as an e-book from Seattle Public Library (as I did).

How do you do that? I could try to explain it, but there's no need, since a librarian at Seattle U's law library created this terrific guide: Borrow a Seattle Public Library Book on Your Kindle.

(Seattle Public has an audio edition, too).

Graphics: Ponzi's Scheme book jacket from Random House; Kindle from

No comments: