Some people don’t want to earn money the hard way, they want to get rich quick. These people have genius minds but use them to manipulate people into basically just handing their money over.
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#6 - Two Timin’ The Old Timers
If you hear the word “Ponzi” and you immediately think of old people getting swindled out of their retirement funds, this is probably the scandal you’re thinking about. Michael Kelly was a man who scammed over 8,000 people, most of whom were elderly and retired out of a cool $500 million. What kind of monster takes money from people on a fixed income?! It’s sick! Kelly’s scheme was set up like a timeshare where people invest a bunch of money into a property that they can only visit for one weekend out of the whole year. Kelly gave just a slightly different option. With him, you could choose the weekend, or you could lease the rooms, to a company Kelly also owned, and receive an annual return rate of 11%. Everyone decided to go with the second option, making Kelly a very rich man. Once Michael Kelly was charged, he was in federal custody until 2012, when he was released on house arrest so that he could get treatment for colon cancer. He died in 2013 from the disease.
#5 - The Wolf Of Wallstreet
Leonardo DiCaprio played the part of Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, but did you know that that film was based on true events? Belfort founded a brokerage firm named Stratton Oakmont. The company went on to defraud investors through stock sales. When the firm was shut down in 1998, and Belfort was charged with fraud and money laundering, all 1,000 employees lost their jobs as well. Belfort found in in his best interest to cooperate with FBI investigation and he only went to jail for two years. When the cost of damages was added up, it was discovered that Belfort had swindled investors out of $200 million, $110 million of which he was required to pay back. In order to pay back those hefty sums, he wrote a memoir, from which the movie was based, and made plenty of speaking appearances. He now enjoys a quiet life in Southern California.
#4 - Big Baller In Florida
Scott Rothstein is responsible for the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of Florida. Rothstein lived a very flashy lifestyle which helped convince investors to purchase fake structured settlements. He promised the investors that they would all see a return of at least 20% in as little as three months, and they ate it up. They forked over $1.4 billion dollars which funded Scott’s real golden throne, his toilet, hundreds of luxury watches, some of which you can see pictured here, as well as Bugattis and other expensive cars. He plead guilty to five federal crimes in January 2010, he is now serving a 50 year prison sentence. Since his wife tried to hide jewelry and other assets during the investigation, she herself had to serve a year and a half.
#3 - Lou Pearlman
You should remember the name Lou Pearlman, and not necessarily because he was tied up in this huge scandal. He was once known as one of the hottest music producers of the 90’s. He’s worked with the likes of ‘NSYNC, pictured here, The Backstreet Boys, and LFO. Even though he was once a great producer, he was also a little too into money too. Over the course of 20 years, Lou convinced a slew of people to invest $300 million into two different companies that only existed on paper. He even went as far as fabricating financial statements to secure loans from the bank! Because of these crimes, Pearlman was sentenced to 25 years in 2008.
#2 - Bernie Madoff
Bernie Madoff didn’t lead as flashy of a lifestyle as Scott Rothstein, but he did his fair share of spending. Bernie Madoff is the most famous Ponzi schemer, behind the man that started it all, Charles Ponzi. Madoff ran a once legitimate wealth management company in New York, but he turned south when he realized he could make a whole lot more money scamming people out of theirs. Over the course of 11 federal felonies, Madoff stole $65 billion from investors and was sentenced to 150 years in prison. Again, it clearly doesn’t pay to scam people.
#1 - TelexFree
The company TelexFree was created as a voice over the internet form of communication. The company made little money from this exchange but instead focused on convincing people to sign up for incentives and bonuses that would never come. They raked in millions from this. The cash you see in this picture was $20 million that had been stashed by a person who had been trying to wire this money from the U.S. to one of the founders of the company. This is one of the pictures that the Feds took when they found this stash. When the true intentions of TelexFree were exposed, one of the founders came forward and admitted to the scheme whereas another one fled for Brazil. In the end, the company managed to get over a billion dollars from over a million people.