Where Did Ponzi Schemes Get Their Name?

Photo Courtesy: Florida Times Union/Wikimedia Commons

It can be an honor to be named after something you created or popularized. The Greek mathematician Pythagoras created his own theorem to easily calculate measurements. The Hungarian inventor Ernő Rubik is best known for his architecturally puzzling Rubik’s Cube. But what happens when your name is attached to the worst crime you’ve ever committed?

That’s precisely the case with the Italian-American swindler Charles Ponzi. Originally born Carlo Pietro Giovanni Guglielmo Tebaldo Ponzi, Ponzi’s name lives on anytime someone engages in a money-making scheme that pays profits to early investors with funds from more recent investors. Ponzi certainly wasn’t the first person to trick his investors out of millions, but his criminal history was so outrageous that his biggest scheme was immortalized in his honor.