Category Archives for "Financial Tools"

How Not To Get Involved in a Ponzi Scheme

The Bernard Madoff scandal is making the news again today. I haven’t written much about financial scandals, rip-offs, and white collar crime, so now’s as good a time as any, I suppose, to fill you in on a few things.

First off, let’s just say that Bernie Madoff is a jerk. He took people’s money in an elaborate Ponzi scheme and made off with BILLIONS. Gone are the days when MILLIONS of dollars ripped off will make the news circuit!

Madoff simply needs to be tried, sentenced, and forgetten about. “Investors” – you will NEVER get your money back.


I put “investors” in quotes because a lot of those folks weren’t investors. They were rich dreamers who wanted even more money than they already had.

They had an “In” to a supposedly too-good-to-be-true financial “system.”


If it’s “too good to be true,” it’s too good to be true! Run – don’t walk – away from stuff like this.

For as long as man has lived, there have been schemes concocted by shrewd, yet immoral and dispicable, people that seek to separate YOU from your MONEY.

The most famous, of course, was made famous by Italian immigrant, Charles Ponzi. He promised “investors” a 50 percent return on their money in a matter of days and he made good on his promise.

For a while.

He took new investor money and returned it, plus the 50 percent, to the gullible folks who gave Ponzi their money first. The last suckers got the shaft.

Of course, Ponzi went to jail and died poor. Just like Madoff ought to.

There are some lessons to be learned here.

  1. The aforementioned, “If it’s too good to be true” lesson. 
  2. Invest like Warren Buffett – if you don’t understand a “business,” don’t invest in it. Ponzi had no business other than taking people’s money for himself.
  3. If you hear about a scheme on a golf course, get in your golf cart and go home. Secure your money. Make sure your pockets weren’t picked.
  4. If it sounds like an “insider’s secret,” treat it as such. Insider trading is illegal for many reasons.
  5. Invest in YOUR own business. Nobody else gives a damn about you or your financial plight. 

One last thing: There are legal Ponzi schemes, the most notable of which is Social Security. Yes, you read that right. It’s a government-enacted program that is exactly a Ponzi scheme.

The reason that Social Security will go broke is that there are fewer and fewer “new investors” and the old investors want their guaranteed returns.

I’m not making any moral judgements here. In fact, I support Social Security. In its original fomulation, it was to be used as a social safety net that had more new investors than old. As long as that was the case, the system was sound and good.

But now that the demographics have turned upside down (many more collecting nowadays, not as many contributing, relatively speaking), the system is in peril.

Stay tuned for my solution to the Social Securty nightmare in a coming post. And don’t get me started on Medicare! It’s in a much more precarious state than Social Security ever will be, but you don’t hear much about it.

Money isn’t everything. It’s the only thing. Wait. That’s only for football.
Enjoy life. Spend time with your family.

Get Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan FREE

If you like Suze Orman (I don’t, but it’s not her advice, it’s her delivery. She annoys me, so maybe she’s better in book form!), go ahead and grab her 2009 Action Plan here.

Suze Orman’s Free Book Download

The site gets hit pretty hard when there’s a free book, so you may have to keep trying until you get through. There’s a Spanish version there, too.

Stock Investing Basics: Chapter 6 — Goals, Risk Tolerance, and Objectives

I’ve posted Chapter 6 of Stock Investing Basics over at Your Money Is Your Life.

It’s all about goals, managing risk, and setting objectives. All important stuff, especially right now!

A note of caution: The worst days to invest in stocks are on days that end in “y” — but it’s also the only time!

So, choose wisely.

May be a good time to sit on some cash and wait until some rock-solid companies are cheaper in a few days. This week will be the litmus test whether the “bailout” will work to calm the market down or have to work itself out in the absence of a plan.

Money isn’t everything. Enjoy life. Spend time with your family.