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After Madoff: Notable Ponzi Schemes

In 2009 the term "Ponzi" became a buzzword again thanks to the collapse of Bernard Madoff's $50 billion plot.

Tens of thousands of investors, some of them losing their life's savings, watched more than $16.5 billion disappear like smoke in 2009, according to an Associated Press analysis of scams in all 50 states.

While the dollar figure was lower than in 2008, that's only because Madoff — who pleaded guilty and is serving a 150-year prison sentence — was arrested in December 2008 and didn't count toward the 2009 total.

It was that same year that billionaire investor Warren Buffett sagely observed, "you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out."

In all, more than 150 Ponzi schemes collapsed in 2009, compared to about 40 in 2008, according to the AP's examination of criminal cases at all U.S. attorneys' offices and the FBI, as well as criminal and civil actions taken by state prosecutors and regulators at both the federal and state levels.

Similar comparative numbers are not yet available for 2010, but the SEC says that there were 47 Ponzi enforcement cases in fiscal year 2010 (through Sept. 30) as compared to 54 for fiscal year 2009. Essentially, the numbers are still up and recent court cases show it.

Here, we take a look at some of the most notable Ponzi schemes discovered since the Madoff case.

By Constance Parten, Senior Producer
Updated 18 April, 2011

Photo: Jan Stromme | Stone | Getty Images