On the morning of December 12, 2008, federal authorities arrested Bernard Madoff, a once-storied investment manager with a decades-long history in the financial industry, and charged him with operating the largest Ponzi scheme in history. While the sheer size of Madoff's fraud was unprecedented and caused shockwaves across the U.S. and the world, the worst was yet to come. Over the next five years, as financial markets experienced one of the worst downturns in history, hundreds of additional Ponzi schemes were unearthed. While none would rival the size of Madoff's fraud, the damage inflicted by these schemes was devastating. Yet, there has been no single source for viewing the carnage inflicted by these financial assassins. Until now. Ponzitracker presents the Ponzi Database - the most detailed listing of over 500 Ponzi schemes exposed and sentenced over the past five years - the aptly-named "Madoff Era." This information is presented free of charge as an interactive database with the hope that it may serve as not only a resource, but an example of the drastic financial and societal damage caused by Ponzi schemes.
The numbers are almost unfathomable. Since Madoff's scheme was exposed, at least 500 Ponzi schemes have been exposed and/or seen their perpetrators sentenced to prison time. Those schemes involved over 50 billion dollars, at the expense of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of victims. After the accused made their way through the criminal justice system, at least 360 individuals were sentenced to a cumulative total of over 5,000 years in prison. This amounted to an average Ponzi scheme size of nearly $99 million, while the median Ponzi scheme (better accounting for the disproportionate schemes perpetrated by Madoff and Allen Stanford), was $10 million. Over 90% of Ponzi scheme perpetrators were male, while approximately 10% were female. In terms of sentencing trends, fraudsters received an average and median sentence of 114 and 108 months, respectively.
This database represents an extensive effort to provide transparency to the massive economic and societal toll of Ponzi schemes. Ponzitracker would like to acknowledge the resources provided by ThePonziSchemeBlog.com, especially the monthly Ponzi roundups. Chris Marquet of Marquet International provided substantial assistance in compiling data for this report. For those looking for a more in-depth analysis of Ponzi schemes, the Marquet Report on Ponzi schemes provides an unparalleled look into Ponzi schemes from 2002 to 2011, and is available here. Alison Jimenez from Dynamic Securities Analytics, Inc. was also instrumental in compiling the data and creating the visualizations below.
While the database remains a work in progress, it is presented for public consumption below.
The database, as well as additional visualizations, is also housed at the Ponzi Scheme Database tab at the top of the page.
Questions? Comments? Additions? Contact Ponzitracker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Disclaimer - This database was compiled using publicly available news sources. As a general rule, the database includes schemes of $1 million or more. The names and sentences displayed are based off news reports, and are not independently verified. Please contact Ponzitracker here with any clarifications or comments.)