New York City: Charles Ponzi, Publisher; Via Bormida 2, Rome, Italy, .
First Edition. ix, [i], 176 pp. Full-page portrait on p. vi. 8vo. Publisher's orange cloth, titled in dark blue on upper cover and spine, minor fading to spine. Inked stamp of the Morrow Distributing Agency, Dallas, TX on the front endpaper. Bookplate Item #320067
Written and self-published after being deported to Italy after serving his jail sentence, the famous fraudster's very rare autobiography recounts his coming to America, the establishment of a business to purchase IRCs in Europe and exchange them at face value in the United States, and his eventual downfall and conviction when authorities and journalists uncovered the truth; that he was paying his incredible returns to investors (50% in 45 days) by using the neverending new capital infusions, without ever purchasing or redeeming the IRCs.
"People gambled with me as I thought they would. They gave me ten dollars as a lark. When they received fifteen at the end of 45 days, all sense of caution left them. They plunged in for all they were worth. They brought their friends along. The legion of investors grew by leaps and bounds. Each satisfied customer became a self-appointed salesman. It was their combined salesmanship, and not my own, that put the thing over. I admit that I started a small snow ball down hill. But it developed into an avalanche by itself" (p. 78).
Establishing his company in January 1920, by June, people had invested $2.5 million in Ponzi's scheme; a month later he was raking in a million dollars per week and by the end of July 1820, investments in Ponzi's company approached a million dollars per day. But by August 1920 the scheme collapsed under scrutiny, with investors losing nearly $20 million and causing the failure of several banks used by Ponzi for deposits.
Self-published, Ponzi's autobiography was printed in a very limited run (and some have suggested that the printer was never paid). Fewer than a dozen copies are located in OCLC. Very rare.
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