Cautionary Tales The Fraudster’s Guide to Magic Money

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Sam Israel had a problem. The investors in his hedge fund, Bayou Capital, were expecting spectacular returns. Sam himself had spent years proclaiming the fund’s brilliant results. But in reality, Sam had been marking his own homework, publishing fraudulent accounts and using these to lure in new investors. 

What to do? Well, the logical thing of course: wait around for an extraordinary profitable streak, and in the meantime keep up the ruse…

This episode of Cautionary Tales was recorded live at the Bristol Festival of Economics and studies three incredible investment scams. How do pyramid and ponzi schemes snowball out of control, flattening victim and fraudster alike?

For a full list of sources, see the show notes at

The Host

Tim Harford

Tim Harford’s long-running column in the Financial Times, “The Undercover Economist,” reveals the economic ideas behind everyday experiences. His first book, The Undercover Economist, was published in 30 languages and sold…