04/07/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

TIME: How To Spot A Ponzi Scheme

With so many Ponzis and so little time to know if you've been hoodwinked, there are some red flags even the most trusting investors can bank on: yachts, mansions, jets and women. If your investment adviser is dabbling in any of the above, there's a good chance you've been "Ponzi-ed" or are about to be.

Creating the illusion of fantastic success, of course, is chapter one in the Scammer's Handbook. But many, like R. Allen Stanford and Bernie Madoff, among the most egregious alleged billionaire bamboozlers, are taking the art of thievery to the next level. Some don't even bother opening an investor account when new monies come in, they just go shopping. It's enough to make Gordon "Greed is Good" Gecko blush. (See 25 people to blame for the financial crisis.)

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