It was a rough year for Ponzi schemes. An Associated Press analysis of all 50 states shows that the recession caused nearly four times as many Ponzi scheme collapses in 2009 as there were in 2008.
Tens of thousands of investors watched more than $16.5 billion disappear. That included the life savings of many people.
Investors lost more money to such scams in 2008 thanks to the failure of Bernie Madoff's long-running scheme estimated at $21 billion to $50 billion.
But experts say the main reason so many more Ponzi plots collapsed this year was that investors had less money to risk. The Madoff case also made investors more careful and brought tighter regulation from federal authorities.
More than 150 Ponzi schemes collapsed in 2009 compared with about 40 in 2008.
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