A Woman to Know: Sarah Howe
|Julia Carpenter||Apr 10, 2019|
The Ladies' Deposit Company was established as a bank of women, by women, and for women. — Munsey's Magazine
(image via Boston Public Library)
Sarah Howe invented the Ponzi scheme before we knew it as the Ponzi scheme (which, by the way, is named for a man who didn't even run his scheme until 20 years after Howe ran hers).
In 19th century Boston, Howe socialized with high society women, offering them a chance to "get in" on the original "ground floor" of a female-led investment. She took money from these women and promised high-interest returns once they recruited others to contribute — you can guess what happened next.
From the April 25, 1881 issue of The New York Times:
Mrs. Sarah E. Howe, the manager of the notorious "Ladies' Deposit," the woman's bank paying 8 per cent. a month, which was broken up by the persistent newspaper exposures of its operations and their assaults, last Fall, was to-day, after a trial of comparatively short duration, found guilty on four counts of the indictment.
Add to your library list:
Fraud: An American History (Edward J. Balleisen)
The Great Swindlers (The Wall Street Journal)
The Women's Deposit Company (The New York Times)
A fool and his money are soon parted (Boston Public Library)
Depicting a Female Fraud: Sarah Howe and the Boston Women's Bank (Taylor Francis Online)
Notable Ponzi Schemes (How Stuff Works)
** Send your own recommendations for women to know! Reply to this newsletter with your lady and she could be featured in an upcoming edition. You can browse the archive here. **