by Mitchell Zuckoff
"Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend" by Mitchell Zuckoff is the biography of Charles Ponzi who was born in Italy into a family which lost its place in the aristocracy after the unification of Italy. When he was 21, he immigrated to Boston where he found streets of mud instead of the ones paved with gold of his imagination.
Ponzi did not invent the scheme named after him, which was previously called Rob-Peter-to-Pay-Paul, but he used the scam to fleece hard-working Italian immigrants and others in Boston out of an estimated $20 million. On the other side is the story of Richard Grozier, the young publisher of the Boston Post. Concerned about his employees and readers, who by the hundreds lined up to give Ponzi their money, he and other men of the Post investigated Ponzi's scheme and were instrumental in bringing him down. The Boston Post won the Pulitzer Prize for public service as a result.
Ponzi's star rose quickly and burned brightly for a brief moment, and it's fun to read his story. Like most schemes which rob Peter to pay Paul, his fizzled out after a few short months. Charles Ponzi's legacy became his name although it was not the name he'd anticipated making for himself when he set sail for America and those streets paved with gold.