Open Accessibility Menu
Meet Our Legal Team
  • Attorneys David Meyer and Matthew Wilson have been selected to the list of Super Lawyers since 2011 and 2015 respectively.

  • Attorney David Meyer is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an organization recognizing attorneys who have secured million dollar cases.

  • Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ has recognized attorney David Meyer as an AV Preeminent® attorney in High Ethical Standing.

  • Attorneys David Meyer and Matthew Wilson have received a 10 out of 10 “Superb” rating on Avvo, calculated based on stringent and exhaustive criteria.

  • Attorney David Meyer was selected as the 2015 Lawyer of the Year for Professional Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs for Columbus, OH by Best Lawyers®.

  • Meyer Wilson was ranked as a Tier 1 Best Law Firm for both Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs and Professional Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs by U.S. News.

  • Attorney David Meyerhas been selected to the list of the Best Lawyers in America® for Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs and Professional Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs every year since 2011.

Most Notorious Ponzi Schemes of All Time

Investors often fall under the spell of charismatic individuals selling "guaranteed" high returns with "little or no risk." This laundry list of the most notorious con artists who successfully perpetrated this scam on unwitting investors is a testament to the allure of the Ponzi scheme.

Charles Ponzi

The original bad boy of finance, Charles Ponzi went from rags to riches in 6 months by promising investors a 50% return in 45 days in an international postal coupon arbitrage setup. He reportedly stole $15 million—a considerable sum for today's standards but even more so in the 1920s. His fraud is memorialized every time a new scheme is labeled by the phrase he coined.

Enrique, Osvaldo, and Freddy Villalobos

Based on a loan scheme that started in the late 1980s, this was a much less volatile version of the original plan. The three brothers from Costa Rica were disciplined and had real assets to back their staying power. The Villalobos men supposedly bilked mainly American and Canadian retirees out of $400 million over their staggeringly long run of 20 years.

Gerald Payne

Gerald Payne allegedly used his ministry to solicit investor cash. As a minister with Greater Ministries International, Payne's Ponzi scheme targeted his congregation with a precious metal investment plan that would "double the blessings" of participating investors. Unfortunately, Payne allegedly pocketed $500 million, and the majority of his investors never saw their cash again.

Lou Pearlman

In the late 1990s, Lou Pearlman was the manager of boy bands such as ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. Already known in the community, he decided to offer high-return investments through his FDIC-insured Trans Continental Savings Program. The scheme was not FDIC-approved or insured at all, but Pearlman reportedly raised nearly $500 million for his fraudulent scheme.

Bernard Madoff

New information is still being uncovered regarding this most notorious scam artist's methods, which were shrouded in secrecy even to those working closely with him. Madoff spent years building what is now regarded as the largest Ponzi scheme in history to date. His incredibly long list of victims included nonprofit organizations, celebrities, other funds, financial institutions, and countless others. He allegedly swindled them out of more than $50 billion.

Michael Eugene Kelly

Michael Eugene Kelly allegedly targeted retired and elderly investors by offering enticing timeshare investments based in Cancun, Mexico. Investors believed that they would receive returns with very little risk, but the Ponzi scheme ended up taking $428 million instead. According to the SEC, at least $136 million of that amount came from investors' IRA / retirement accounts.

Sarah Howe

Sarah Howe ran her Ponzi scheme way back in 1880. What made her scheme work is the same kind of affinity fraud we continue to see today. Howe specifically targeted female investors with a "Ladies Deposit" that would offer 8% interest, but she ended up pocketing the cash for herself.

Need More Information?

Investment misconduct can be complex and confusing. That’s why we’re here to help you. Visit our Common Questions page to find in depth answers directly from our attorneys. Get More Answers
Have You Been a Victim of Investment Fraud?

You trusted your financial advisor with your money, but now you're left wondering what went wrong. If you or a loved one suffered losses because of investment misconduct, Meyer Wilson can step in and fight to recover your losses. The team of investment fraud lawyers at the firm has been helping people like you since 1999 by winning judgments, settlements and verdicts worth hundreds of millions of dollars against brokerage firms, financial advisors and banks.

Get Help With Your Case Now

  • Please enter the name of the investment firm.
  • Please enter how much money you lost.
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • This isn't a valid email address.
    Please enter your email address.
  • This isn't a valid phone number.
    Please enter your phone number.
    You entered an invalid number.
  • Please enter a message.