Letter: Enough With All The Ponzi Schemes: How To Put An End To It

Another Ponzi scheme is currently shaking up our community. In fact, multiple Ponzi schemes are rapidly unfolding – one in Lakewood, another in Brooklyn, and a third in the Five Towns.

Collectively, we’re looking at losses in the ballpark of a jaw-dropping $100 million. Do I know the exact numbers? Of course not, because, let’s be real, who actually knows who’s running these Ponzi schemes?

Rumor has it they’re people of standing in the frum community, but that’s where the trail of information goes cold. I’m in the dark about the names or specifics of the people orchestrating each scheme. All I know is that they’re heimishe people. For all I know, they could be my neighbors.

This is where the real problem begins. Everyone’s too scared to name names.

“Who’s the mastermind behind the Ponzi scheme?” I’ve asked around. Most people just shrug. A few exchange knowing looks but clam up when it comes to spilling the beans.

“Loshon hora,” one of them said rather piously. “I don’t think I’m allowed to say his name.”


We’re dealing with a serial grifter in our midst. This isn’t the first Ponzi scheme, and judging by how things are looking, it won’t be the last. The only potential deterrent? Publicizing the con artist’s name, plastering his face on every street sign, and scrawling in big letters on his house, “This man is a thief.”

That’s the only language these people understand, and it’s the only way we can protect the public from falling victim to future schemes.

In the old days, we used to tar and feather people like this. Today, I suggest we metaphorically bring back that punishment. Not physically, of course. But let’s tar and feather their names.

How about posters in every shul and yeshiva, featuring a big mugshot of the Ponzi schemer, complete with his address and phone number? Articles in all the Jewish newspapers detailing what he did and how he did it.

What, you think that’s embarrassing, demeaning, and hurtful? Should we be sensitive to the Ponzi schemer’s feelings? What about the feelings, mental anguish, and drained bank accounts he left in the wake of his innocent victims? Why is nobody talking about that?

Why are we so intent on protecting the identity and name of the Ponzi schemers?

Let his family feel embarrassed about how their father, husband, or brother is a swindler. Yes, it may make it hard for the children to find a shidduch after the news breaks. Sure, it’ll be awkward for his family members to live in their mansions and drive around in their fancy cars, when everyone knows exactly how their lifestyle was funded.

But that’s the whole point.

Create a system of repercussions that embarrass and demean the families of these Ponzi schemers, and suddenly, the schemers will realize it’s not so simple to swindle people’s money. Such public shaming might just be the deterrent we need.

Make these Ponzi perpetrators realize that their actions come with severe social penalties. There’s a hefty price to pay. You’ll be ostracized by the very community you victimized.

And that, my friends, is the best justice of all.

B. Glatt

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  1. Weird question. Maybe I’m missing a detail or I’m totally clueless. But wouldn’t jail time be enough to deter somebody who’s doing the same type of stuff that Bernie Madoff did? Tell me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there is an issue of mesira in these situations. Or is there?

    • When The corruption Madoff happened the famous line going around the world was:
      What’s a person’s money worth after they leave this temporary physical world? It’s not even worth counterfeit or monopoly money, it’s completely worthless. What do you think the niftars children will buy a Sefer Torah in the zechus of the Neshama?

    • My thoughts exactly. Apparently deterrents are not enough for these people- and that’s besides the point that these people are shamed eventually anyways when they go to prison. So obviously embarrassment just doesn’t do it.

  2. What about all those men/women who have siryuvim issued against them and are not shunned by society? A siryuv is a recognized halachic vehicle to compel the violator to submit to Beis Din. If the public doesn’t participate in excommunicating the individual who has a siryuv against them it’s issuance becomes ineffective.

    It should be noted, a siryuv must be signed by three members of a Beis Din to be considered valid. The safra signing his name does not validate the siryuv.

  3. My mind says you are right. My heart says no.

    Absolutely no question we need to stop this. Drastic measures must be in place. Its a 2 way street. Stop the horrible people perpetrating these schemes and educate people how not to fall in.

    I’m just not sure why a wife and children, siblings, parents and family of these bad people should suffer. What did they do wrong? Obviously the perpetrator doesn’t care enough about them to begin with so I don’t think it will deter him anyways. I’m not sure what other options will work but I just don’t think embarrassing people who did not do anything wrong is ok.

    • Family of sex abusers are also not responsible for their family members malady nonetheless the safety of the public is more important than consideration of their shame. Of course, ppl should be mindful and considerate to the family members however to abstain from warning the public makes one culpable!

      • There is zero comparison between abusers and financial crimes.

        Side note- part of the reason why an investment that goes bad spirals into a Ponzi scheme is because some investors will drag and spin the syndicator through the mud, dinei torah, ripping up shidduchim etc. because they can’t accept a loss. Not every investment leads to a return. More people need to understand that.

  4. I don’t believe these “Ponzi Schemes” are premeditated, they usually begin with someone trying to cover up a loss and then spiral out of control. The perpetrators usually reach the peak level of humiliation possible. Keep in mind that although you don’t know the names, those involved most definitely do.
    The family members I’m sure are also quite aware of what’s going on, and there is no need for extra shaming. A ten year old kid in school should not be subjected to his fathers face being plastered all over town. Neither should teenagers, married children, or even a spouse be subjected to that. They did not commit a crime, and they should therefore not be targeted for shaming.
    So yes, as much as possible should be done to prevent Yidden from losing money, but vindictively shaming entire families does not help in any way. Yidden are Rachmonim, we do not look to cause unnecessary pain out of spite.

    • In response to your comment. That’s the whole point. Nobody goes into it wanting to scam people out of money. But they go through the motions of raising more funds knowing that it’s really not enough, and there’s nothing to deter them from taking that dangerous road. They have no reason not to take the slippery slope, because anybody before them who took that slippery slope and lost everybody else’s money, nothing happened to them. If there was a hard and harsh response to any Ponzi schemer there’s no question that people would think twice before they Get to the point where they spiral out of control.Right now there’s nothing stopping them from doing so. There’s no repercussions. Nobody wants to say their names. Nobody wants to press charges. So the cycle keeps repeating itself over and over again.

  5. U sound unhinged ! Re-read ur letter..
    maybe you’ll have a better idea next time that doesn’t include embarrassing innocent wives and children.

  6. Us Yidden go by a Shulchan Aruch. While it may be hard at times and we may not know the reasons, we have Rabonim to tell us how to react. Not angry and arrogant people.

  7. Rarely do they start off as a Ponzi scheme. In reality it starts off as a legitimate investment that goes bad. The syndicator will then try to put in more funds bec he believes he can turn it around. Unfortunately that too goes bad. A few more rounds and it’s turned into a full blown Ponzi scheme.

  8. Yaakov Avinu taught klal Yisroel that when there is נגיעות, don’t farkoif me דעת תורה

    Reb Noson put it this way, “du vest zein a nahr mit a shtar”.

  9. Oh poor you. No one will let you in on the hock and tell you the latest gossip. How dare the ‘community’ not let you ‘protect’ yourself!

    Get a life. You Wannabe Dictator.

    Obviously you aren’t concerned for innocent people, because your edicts (which you’re ready to enact based entirely on one sided hear-say) would harm many innocents.

    You may B Glatt, Glatt UnKosher.

  10. I’d love to know this loser Glatt is. It doesn’t even seem like he lost any $ because he makes no mention of it. Just a hater. I’ve invested with many different groups and deals and some have gone south but I would never dare write such an article. Such hate and no clear knowledge of facts as he clearly states he couldn’t even get the names of the people, Nevermind the correct figures. I don’t even know why TLS posts such a foolish article. Sounds like some clueless “kanoee”.000 daas Torah that’s forsure.

    • Clearly TLS is posting this letter because way too many people in our community got burnt by so-called reputable syndicators and dealmakers who were actually not very reputable To begin with. Yes there is obviously risk involved. But when the syndicator starts making up financial figures and falsifying documents, because he wants to get more investors, that’s where you have to draw the line and publicly out them. This is not simply an investment with some risk. This is an investment that was built on falsehood. Big difference.

  11. For every 500 million dollars our community makes another 100 million will be lost, that is not a Ponzi scheme, it’s called the risk and reward, not so easy to figure out if it is a ponzi scheme or a deal that went bad, we are stupid if we don’t realize that you can’t make big money without incurring the risk of losing big money.

    This doesn’t mean we should take that risk.
    But before we decide things are Ponzi schemes let us educate that any deal with potential for big returns must inherently include risk for big losses.

    If you don’t understand this you don’t understand business.

    Not everything is black and white.

    If people understood the inherent risk big deals take people would understand that some deals go bad, and that would reduce the crushing pressure that people have avoid admitting that 25 million was lost through a unfortunate investment gone south.

    Letters like these, obscure the underlying reality that syndicated private real estate deals contain unavoidable risk.

    A smarter investment for almost everyone is a index fund

  12. Josh said there us zero comparison between sexual abuse and financial crimes.
    Actual there is a precise comparison.
    The Torah calls them both “to’eva”!

  13. a Ponzi scheme is where some results are shown to hide the other major failures and this fools people and they fall for it and keep promoting it

    that is exactly what is going on in town with the shidduchim

    people are pointing to some successes as “proof” that all is ok when really for many and perhaps most of the single girls who are 26 and older it is a game over

    they have been taken for a ride and fallen victim to a social Ponzi scheme from which they can almost never recover

    they were never even given the chance to opt out of the “never the same age” merry go round which automatically pushes so many girls into the mud

    so yes, we are angry at the nerve of those who cause unwitting people to lose their life savings

    but what about those who have caused or stand by while others are causing people to lose alot more than just their savings

    their entire lives have lost its potential value

    oops, that’s talking tachlis, let’s better go back to talking about financial swindling after all it makes no difference what we say so that’s just gossip,

    whereas causing a real change in the shidduch system is much more than just idle talk, it’s actually about saving lives

  14. Couldn’t agree more – let’s name and shame the biggest Ponzi criminals. Here’s what I learned after Peter Thiel started a bank run on Silicon Valley Bank last March:

    We are flooded with fake-science Ponzi schemes out of our most elite institutions, and cryptocurrency is our first planetary multi-trillion dollar Ponzi scheme that’s about to collapse the world economy so our elites can try to fascist coup us. The list is practically endless, but here’s a good start:

    – Harvard, Stanford, NYU, Penn, and a host of other elite universities. Investment funds like Stanford’s StartX.com and Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘Program for Evolutionary Dynamics’ at Harvard are Ponzi factories.

    – Silicon Valley: Facebook, PayPal, Google, LinkedIn, and many others helped invent cryptocurrency.

    – Every U.S. president since at least 1988: Turns out, we’ve got a ‘secret kleptocracy’: Both parties are run by the same group of financial criminals whose only goal is to bleed us dry. For illustrative crypto connections: Virtually every participant in the Clinton Global Initiative has ties to crypto. Donald Trump associates Josh Kushner and Anthony Scaramucci are big tech VC names in crypto.

    – The criminal media that has gaslit us completely. Forbes, owned by the crypto industry, is the most obvious example, but from there we learn that virtually any popular media is in on the theft.

    Join the united movement to abolish this rotten farce forever.

  15. SERIOUS asked for the source that financial crimes are ,like sexual crimes / abuse are called to’eva.
    See Devarim 25 :13 -16.
    You will also see that whereas with the more well known example, the Torah declares the ACT as to’eva?
    When it comes to dishonesty in weights and measures?
    The PERSON is called to’eva!

  16. There’s no such thing as getting something for nothing, if it looks to good to be true it is, the only place to get rich quick in investing with minimum money is become a member of congress where insider trading is legal.

  17. People lose money because of greed!!

    I have a fund, I never, ever, promise any type of return, almost all scams do so, run away.

    My fund has a minimum, never gets lowered for anyone. If they don’t have a minimum, or it’s low, especially if they will make “an exception” for you, run it’s a scam.

    Bottom line stop being greedy, and dreaming of being rich from someone’s lies. Look for normal minimum (the higher the better) look for no guaranteed returns, and most of all UNDERSTAND it, if the investment is complicated but has a return of 50%, RUN!!


    Ben Grunfeld

    PS if you need help feel free to ask TLS for my email, or you can contact me via website.

  18. About 25 years ago, all married couples gave money to investors and it all got lost.

    Yankel Miller had a great line: give me your money, and I promise you I will return half of it back in five years.

    On a more serious note. People looking to take other’s money should not take money from them that if they lose it, it will destroy their lives.

    Of course, when you invest other’s money, risks are involved, but you have to make it clear to the investor about those risks.

    If you know that someone was successful and is struggling, be very careful investing with him, because he might very well do high-risk moves to get out of trouble. If you know of such a person, it’s a tremendous mitzvah to see how a few people can help this person out without him drowning and keep his business going. Sometimes, it’s some small steps that have to be taken, that he can’t realize because he is over his head, but others can see the problem and help him out.

    I wish everyone a lot of HATZLOCHA!!!

  19. Actual case:
    Man selling shares in an investment. A fellow to whom many turn to for advice starts to tell people that it smells. Salesman goes to fellow’s rav to complain.
    Rav tells fellow that what he is doing is loshon hora.
    Fellow stops telling people to not invest .
    Turns out to be a Ponzi scheme in which many lose their life savings.

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