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It was one of the biggest swindlers in US history. In one of Charles Ponzi's early scams around 1920, he offered investors a 50% return on their money in 45 days, or a doubling of their money in 90 days. By February 1920, Ponzi's best-known scam had taken in $5,000, by March, he was up to $30,000.
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At that time Ponzi began hiring agents to expand his swindle. By pushing his impressive high rate of return, he could often persuade would-be investors to send money. In May 1920, he was up to $420,000 and by July 1920, he was up to millions.

About 40,000 people invested about $15 million all together; in the end, only a third of that money was returned to them. Ponzi was indicted on 86 counts of mail fraud and sentenced to five years in prison in 1920.