Finalmente la empresa fue intervenida por el Estado, que detuvo todas las nuevas captaciones de dinero. La mayor parte de las personas no obtuvieron los beneficios, muchos de los cuales reinvirtieron su dinero en la estafa. El sistema puede funcionar entre un corto o largo plazo, todo depende de la cantidad de nuevos inversionistas que se integren al negocio. Una burbuja se basa en la credulidad y el deseo de grandes beneficios, pero no es lo mismo que una trama Ponzi. Y no se necesita un maquinador tras una burbuja. Cuando las deudas han vencido y no hay dinero con que pagarlas, ya sea por causa de la mala suerte o robo deliberado, los deudores usualmente hacen sus pagos pidiendo prestado o robando de otros fondos.
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Characteristics[ edit ] Typically, Ponzi schemes require an initial investment and promise above average returns. It is common for the operator to take advantage of a lack of investor knowledge or competence, or sometimes claim to use a proprietary, secret investment strategy to avoid giving information about the scheme.
The basic premise of a Ponzi scheme is " to rob Peter to pay Paul ". Initially, the operator pays high returns to attract investors and entice current investors to invest more money.
When other investors begin to participate, a cascade effect begins. The schemer pays a "return" to initial investors from the investments of new participants, rather than from genuine profits.
Often, high returns encourage investors to leave their money in the scheme, so that the operator does not actually have to pay very much to investors.
The operator simply sends statements showing how much they have earned, which maintains the deception that the scheme is an investment with high returns. Investors within a Ponzi scheme may even face difficulties when trying to get their money out of the investment. Operators also try to minimize withdrawals by offering new plans to investors where money cannot be withdrawn for a certain period of time in exchange for higher returns.
The operator sees new cash flows as investors cannot transfer money. If a few investors do wish to withdraw their money in accordance with the terms allowed, their requests are usually promptly processed, which gives the illusion to all other investors that the fund is solvent and financially sound.
Ponzi schemes sometimes begin as legitimate investment vehicles, such as hedge funds that can easily degenerate into a Ponzi-type scheme if they unexpectedly lose money or fail to legitimately earn the returns expected. The operators fabricate false returns or produce fraudulent audit reports instead of admitting their failure to meet expectations, and the operation is then considered a Ponzi scheme.
A wide variety of investment vehicles and strategies, typically legitimate, have become the basis of Ponzi schemes. For instance, Allen Stanford used bank certificates of deposit to defraud tens of thousands of people. Certificates of deposit are usually low-risk and insured instruments, but the Stanford certificates of deposit were fraudulent. Securities and Exchange Commission SEC , many Ponzi schemes share similar characteristics that should be "red flags" for investors.
Every investment carries some degree of risk , and investments yielding higher returns typically involve more risk. Any "guaranteed" investment opportunity is often considered suspicious. Overly consistent returns. Investment values tend to go up and down over time, especially those offering potentially high returns. An investment that continues to generate regular positive returns regardless of overall market conditions is considered suspicious.
Unregistered investments. Ponzi schemes typically involve investments that have not been registered with the SEC or with state regulators. Unlicensed sellers. Federal and state securities laws require that investment professionals and their firms be licensed or registered. Most Ponzi schemes involve unlicensed individuals or unregistered firms.
Secretive or complex strategies. Investments that cannot be understood or do not give complete information. Issues with paperwork. Excuses are given regarding why clients cannot review information in writing about an investment. Also, account statement errors and inconsistencies are frequently signs that funds are not being invested as promised. Difficulty receiving payments. Clients have failures to receive a payment or have difficulty cashing out their investments.
Ponzi scheme promoters routinely encourage participants to "roll over" investments and sometimes promise even higher returns on the amount rolled over. Since the scheme requires a continual stream of investments to fund higher returns, if the number of new investors slows down, the scheme collapses as the operator can no longer pay the promised returns the higher the returns, the greater the risk of the Ponzi scheme collapsing. Such liquidity crises often trigger panics, as more people start asking for their money, similar to a bank run.
External market forces, such as a sharp decline in the economy for example, the Madoff investment scandal during the market downturn of , cause many investors to withdraw part or all of their funds. Actual losses are extremely difficult to calculate.
The amounts that investors thought they had were never attainable in the first place. The wide gap between "money in" and "fictitious gains" make it virtually impossible to know how much was lost in any Ponzi scheme.
However, several characteristics distinguish these schemes from Ponzi schemes:  In a Ponzi scheme, the schemer acts as a "hub" for the victims, interacting with all of them directly. In a pyramid scheme, those who recruit additional participants benefit directly. Failure to recruit typically means no investment return. A Ponzi scheme claims to rely on some esoteric investment approach, and often attracts well-to-do investors, whereas pyramid schemes explicitly claim that new money will be the source of payout for the initial investments.
By contrast, Ponzi schemes can survive simply by persuading most existing participants to reinvest their money, with a relatively small number of new participants.
For example, misuse of initial coin offerings , or "ICOs," on the Ethereum blockchain platform have been one such method,  known as "smart Ponzis" per the Financial Times. A bubble involves ever-rising prices in an open market for example stock , housing , cryptocurrency ,  [ unreliable source? Bubbles are often said to be based on the "greater fool" theory. As with the Ponzi scheme, the price exceeds the intrinsic value of the item, but unlike the Ponzi scheme: In most economic bubbles, there is no single person or group misrepresenting the intrinsic value.
A common exception is a pump and dump scheme typically involving buyers and holders of thinly-traded stocks , which has much more in common with a Ponzi scheme compared to other types of bubbles. Ponzi schemes typically result in criminal charges when authorities discover them, but other than pump and dump schemes, economic bubbles do not typically involve unlawful activity, or even bad faith on the part of any participant.
Laws are only broken if someone perpetuates the bubble by knowingly and deliberately misrepresenting facts to inflate the value of an item as with a pump and dump scheme. Even when this occurs, wrongdoing and especially criminal activity is often much more difficult to prove in court compared to a Ponzi scheme. Therefore, the collapse of an economic bubble rarely results in criminal charges which require proof beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction and, even when charges are pursued, they are often against corporations, which can be easier to pursue in court compared to charges against people but also can only result in fines as opposed to jail time.
The more commonly-pursued legal recourse in situations where someone suspects an economic bubble is the result of nefarious activity is to sue for damages in civil court , where the standard of proof is only balance of probabilities and where the plaintiff need not demonstrate mens rea.
In some jurisdictions[ which? This typically does not happen in the case of an economic bubble, especially if nobody can prove the bubble was caused by anyone acting in bad faith.
Items traded in an economic bubble are much more likely to have an intrinsic value that is worth a substantial proportion of the market price. Therefore, following collapse of an economic bubble especially one in a commodity such as real estate the items affected will often retain some value, whereas an investment that is part of a Ponzi scheme will typically be worthless or very close to worthless. On the other hand, it is much easier to obtain financing for many items that are the frequent subject of bubbles.
If an investor trading on margin or borrowing to finance investments becomes the victim of a bubble, he or she can still lose all or a very substantial portion of his or her investment capital, or even be liable for losses in excess of the original capital investment.
Society and culture[ edit ] Weightlifters frequently use the term Ponzi in reference to a scheme of strength training in which athletes perform exercises with progressively less weight also known as drop-sets to maximize muscle tension. Such exercises are intended to invoke imagery of a pyramid, as the weightlifter gradually reduces the size of their weight stack in the same way that a pyramid grows upwards.
This usage of Ponzi conflates the term with a pyramid scheme , a related form of fraud.
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