a swindle in which a quick return, made up of money from new investors, on an initial investment lures the victim into much bigger risks.
Also called Ponzi game, Ponzi scheme.

after Charles Ponzi (died 1949), the organizer of such a scheme in the U.S., 1919–20

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World English Dictionary
Ponzi scheme (ˈpɒnzɪ)
a fraudulent investment operation that pays quick returns to initial contributors using money from subsequent contributors rather than profit
[After Charles Ponzi, who famously perpetrated such a scheme in the United States of America in the early 20th century]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

Ponzi scheme
investment scam by which early investors are paid off from the contributions of later ones, 1957, in ref. to Charles Ponzi, who perpetrated such a scam in U.S., 1919-20.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The simple fact is that the global credit bubble and its myriad of facets is a ponzi scheme of unprecedented proportions.
If its based on population increases its a ponzi scheme that will inevitably collapse.
The ponzi scheme organizers often solicit new investors by promising and promising huge returns.
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