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ponzi scheme n
[Charles A. Ponzi (ca. 1882-1949), Italian-born American swindler]
: an investment swindle in which early investors are paid with sums obtained from later ones in order to create the illusion of profitability
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.