William "520 Percent" Miller of Brooklyn, N.Y., claimed in 1899 he had inside information on stocks and promised interest of 10 percent a week. He defrauded investors out of $1 million.

— Charles Ponzi, an Italian immigrant in Boston, ran a bogus investment scheme in 1919-20 involving postal currency. As many as 20,000 people invested $8 million to $10 million. He spent time in prison before being deported in 1934.

— Lou Pearlman, the mastermind behind the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, operated a $300 million stock and investment scam. He was sentenced to 25 years behind bars.

— James Paul Lewis Jr. told investors he made money by buying and selling distressed businesses, leasing equipment to medical offices and financing medical insurance premiums. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison for a scheme that ran from 1985 to 2003 and cost nearly 3,300 investors around $70 million.

— Steven Hoffenberg, a bill collector who once briefly ran the New York Post, admitted he defrauded investors of $460 million. He pleaded guilty in 1995.

— Reed Slatkin, co-founder of Earthlink Inc. and once a Scientology minister, was sentenced in 2003 to 14 years in prison for swindling investors out of about $240 million over 15 years. Groups affiliated with the Church of Scientology agreed to return millions received from his scheme.

— Daniel Heath was sentenced to 127 years in prison for running an investment scam in Southern California that bilked 1,800 people out of $187 million in the early 1990s. Prosecutors said he preyed on the elderly in a scheme that involved money-losing real estate and small-business projects.

— Bernard Madoff was sentenced to a 150-year prison term after revealing that he used his investment advisory business to cheat thousands of investors of roughly $20 billion in a multi-decade fraud, using the money from new investors to pay returns to existing clients.

— Tom Petters, a Minnesota businessman, was sentenced to 50 years in prison for orchestrating a $3.7 billion scheme that counted hedge funds, pastors, missionaries and retirees among its victims. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his conviction.

— Scott W. Rothstein, founder of now defunct Florida law firm Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, was sentenced to a 50-year prison term after pleading guilty to orchestrating a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme which involved investments in phony legal settlements.

— R. Allen Stanford, a Texas financier, was sentenced to 110 years in prison after being convicted of bilking investors out of more than $7 billion through a Ponzi scheme he operated for over two decades.


Associated Press researcher Judith Ausuebel contributed to this report.