While King Ponz's scheme will likely stand alone atop the fraud tables, Milowe Brost and Gary Sorenson allegedly did their best to keep pace with the likes of Sir Allen. Adjusting for the fact Canada's population is roughly one-tenth of the US's, the duo's Ponzi scheme, which estimates place as high as C$400 million, is a credible showing. Leveraging Alberta's commodity boom, Brost and Sorenson utilized names like Syndicated Gold Depository S.A., Merendon Mining Corporation, and Strategic Metals Corp. to lend credibility to the boxes and arrows gymnastics which promised investors annual returns of 40%. However, while Bernie relied on word-of-mouth to sucker people, a Brost controlled outfit called The Institute Financial Learning was literally preaching Ponzinomics to the masses.
The institute's instructors - called "structurists" - offered educational sessions that bad-mouthed mainstream investing tools such as stocks and bonds. Once potential investors had paid a membership initiation of about $1,700, it offered an alternative: Members were given the ability to make offshore investments with promised annual returns of between 35 and 40 per cent.
But now there are up to 3,000 people who, like Bernie and Sir Allen's hit list, are left to wonder how they got duped and who is to blame. For the Americans who fell victim, the answer is simple: blame Canada.