Saturday, November 22, 2014
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Jacksonville's Notorious Con Artist: Charles Ponzi

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to its investors from their own money or the money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from profit earned by the individual or organization running the operation. Today, Metro Jacksonville briefly highlights the life of the early 20th century's most notorious swindler, the guy that gave the Ponzi scheme its name: Jacksonville's one-time sign-painter Charles Ponzi.

Published January 2, 2013 in History      5 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


The Beginning

Charles Ponzi's 1911 mug shot. Image courtesy of

Carlo Pietro Giovanni Guglielmo Tebaldo Ponzi was born on March 3, 1882 in Parma, Italy.  In 1903, having gambled away most of his life savings during his voyage to America, he arrived in Boston with $2.50 in cash and $1 million in hopes. He spent his first few years in the country working small jobs around the East Coast including being sign painter in Florida.

"Once, when I was in Florida, I got it into my head that I could make something painting signs. So I bought some cardboard and paint and started in. No, I never had the slightest experience, but I got away with it, satisfied folks, and made a little cash. And all the time I kept dreaming of the time I was going to do big things."

He eventually was hired as a dishwasher and worked his way up to waiter before being fired for shortchanging customers and theft and moving to Montreal in 1907, becoming an assistant teller in Luigi "Louis" Zarossi's Banco Zarossi. Soon, the bank failed and Zarossi ran off to Mexico with most of the bank's money, leaving Ponzi behind.

 1 2 3 4 NEXT 



January 02, 2013, 07:31:37 AM
Thank you for the history of our city.


February 19, 2013, 03:48:08 PM
Ponzi was part of the Florida Land Boom too? Wow, that's great to know! Thanks for the article.

Charles Hunter

February 19, 2013, 07:42:04 PM
"That clever American, Ponzi" was mentioned in a recent episode of "Downton Abbey" - as a possible way for a struggling manse owner to turn his fortunes around.


May 01, 2013, 11:22:27 PM
Since the city adjusted the addresses by -200 in 1938, the 1300 block of main is now the 1100 block, the last picture in the story, shows the modern 1300 block not the 1926 1300 block that was between 1st and 2nd.


October 21, 2013, 05:05:50 AM
Quick take
View forum thread
Welcome Guest. You must be logged in to comment on this story.

What are the benefits of having a account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on stories that interest you.
  • Stay up to date on all of the latest issues affecting your neighborhood.
  • Create a network of friends working towards a better Jacksonville.
Register now
Already have an account? Login now to comment.