Ponzi scheme


Pon·​zi scheme ˈpän-zē- How to pronounce Ponzi scheme (audio)
: an investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and bigger risks

Examples of Ponzi scheme in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web After Bernard Madoff’s money-making success was exposed as a Ponzi scheme in 2008, the US Securities and Exchange Commission came calling at Renaissance, Simons said at another MIT gathering in 2019. Patrick Oster, Fortune, 10 May 2024 Among those affected by his elaborate Ponzi scheme were seven Major League Baseball stars: Greg Maddux, Johnny Damon, Bernie Williams, J.D. Drew, Andruw Jones, Jay Bell and Carlos Peña. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 26 Apr. 2024 Christine Quinn's Husband's Request for Restraining Order Against Her Denied by Judge as Court Date Looms A Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Hill involved creating false balance sheets and using fraudulent information to obtain loans. Erin Clements, Peoplemag, 22 Apr. 2024 That court record shows Yang is the subject of a criminal investigation in connection with a Ponzi scheme allegedly conducted through her firms: AK Equity Group LLC, AK Global Investing LLC, Xapphire Fund LLC, Xapphire G Fund LLC and Xapphire LLC. Tom Daykin, Journal Sentinel, 17 Apr. 2024 The Ponzi scheme was among a number of scams Hill carried out prior to the show. Jason Green, The Mercury News, 17 Apr. 2024 Bernie Madoff, the Manhattan investment adviser who promised stellar returns to his A-list clients and instead defrauded them of more than $19 billion in history’s largest Ponzi scheme, died in prison in 2021 at age 82. Peter Blumberg, Fortune, 2 Apr. 2024 Fact check: No, Donald Trump was not criminally prosecuted for taking out, repaying loan In 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to multiple criminal charges for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history and was sentenced to 150 years in prison. Chris Mueller, USA TODAY, 2 Apr. 2024 In a Ponzi scheme, money provided by new investors is used to pay high returns to early-stage investors to suggest the enterprise is prosperous. Lisa Rathke, Quartz, 29 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Ponzi scheme.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Charles Ponzi †1949 American (Italian-born) swindler

First Known Use

1920, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Ponzi scheme was in 1920

Dictionary Entries Near Ponzi scheme

Cite this Entry

“Ponzi scheme.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Ponzi%20scheme. Accessed 20 Jun. 2024.

Legal Definition

Ponzi scheme

Pon·​zi scheme ˈpän-zē-ˌskēm How to pronounce Ponzi scheme (audio)
: an investment swindle in which early investors are paid with sums obtained from later ones in order to create the illusion of profitability

Charles A. Ponzi (ca. 1882–1949), Italian-born American swindler

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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