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Thread: The Man who Time Almost Forgot

  1. #1
    GlimDropper's Avatar
    GlimDropper is offline Administrator
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    Jun 2010

    The Man who Time Almost Forgot

    The Man Who Time (Almost) Forgot

    William H. McMasters Finally Gets His Due for Exposing Ponzi

    (Link to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners website)

    During the ACFE's 22nd Annual Fraud Conference and Exhibition, the 2011 Cliff Robertson Sentinel Award went to William H. McMasters, the Boston publicist who, in 1920, helped take down the most notorious pyramid schemer of them all: Charles Ponzi.

    For the first time ever, the ACFE presented its annual Cliff Robertson Sentinel Award posthumously. Who was the person who earned such an honor, 43 years after his death? William H. McMasters, the man who exposed Charles Ponzi as a fraud in 1920.

    He was Ponzi's publicist for just a short time before he realized his client was a fraudster. McMasters then wrote a scathing exposé for The Boston Post that led to Ponzi's ultimate downfall. The newspaper received the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for its Ponzi coverage. McMasters never even saw the medal and, during his lifetime, he never received public recognition for his role. It is past time to give him his due.


    Possibly the most remarkable part of the story is that McMasters wrote the exposé on Ponzi only 10 days after Ponzi hired him. Compare that to the years of reporters' and investigators' questions before Bernie Madoff's scheme finally came crashing down.



    McMasters approached Richard Grozier, the Post's assistant editor and publisher, about running an exposé on Ponzi. Grozier balked because he was afraid Ponzi would sue him for libel. However, McMasters got a promise from Nathan Tufts, the district attorney of where Grozier lived, that the publisher would be immune from lawsuits if the article proved untrue. So, McMasters wrote the article with the spectacular headline, "Declares Ponzi Is Now Hopelessly Insolvent." Grozier paid him $6,000.

    That Monday morning of Aug. 2, "when Ponzi opened his Boston office … the line was more than a half-mile long." McMasters wrote of terrified investors in tears, some even fainting. But Ponzi paid off these investors for more than a week. He sued the Post for $5 million, and he made speeches railing against the paper. Even the attorney general told McMasters on the day the article appeared that he had made a mistake in running such a scathing story before any official reports.

    However, McMasters persevered. He responded with another Post article on Aug. 3, which ran with a separate article by a reporter who confirmed with Pelletier his conversations with McMasters and Ponzi. McMasters then asked the attorney general to request that investors mail letters saying how much Ponzi owed them. The "overwhelming" response helped prove his exposé — there were simply too many investors owed too much and not enough money to pay them.
    For the rest of the story click the link above.

    It's a great article, well worth the read. It's amazing how little the laws of mathematics have changed in the last 90 years and how many have tried to pretend that they have. I had heard of the name William H. McMasters but never fully understood his role in bringing down Charles Ponzi, I'm happy to share that appreciation with you all. I'd like to think that he'd fit right it around here.
    So your prophets of finance have fallen on their collective proverbial face, and you hear muffled voices calling: Welcome to the human race.
    You made a killing dealing real estate at NASA selling cemetery plots in outer space til some falling coffins crashed upon your doorstep: Welcome to the human race.

    Open up your heart...

    Welcome to

  2. #2
    Soapboxmom's Avatar
    Soapboxmom is offline Administrator
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    Re: The Man who Time Almost Forgot

    Thanks, Glim. That was an amazing read. I wonder how history will view all of us bloggers who toil here and elsewhere to expose those that defraud the public?



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