The scheme is named after Charles Ponzi, who became notorious for using the technique in early 1920. He had emigrated from Italy to the United States in 1903. Ponzi did not invent the scheme. Charles Dickens’ 1857 novel Little Dorrit described such a scheme decades before Ponzi was born, but Charles Ponzi’s operation took in so much money that it was the first to become known throughout the United States. His original scheme was in theory based on arbitraging international reply coupons for postage stamps, but soon diverted investors’ money to support payments to earlier investors and Ponzi’s personal wealth.