People all over Mississippi woke up this morning glad they had never heard of Arthur Lamar Adams before this week. Except for the victims of the biggest Ponzi scheme to hit Mississippi in around 15 years.

Here is the Felony Charges Filing.

Here is the SEC Complaint.

A.P. stories on the scandal are in the Washington Post and N.Y. Times. Kingfish is on it.

In retrospect, we were due for a Ponzi scheme to break in Mississippi. It’s been at least 15 years since the Namric-Nance Panama Blue Crab Ponzi scheme rocked the Delta. Here is my 2009 blog post mentioning that scheme and linking an article that Madison Timber investors probably wish they had seen.

Non-victims should not be too smug. The only people guaranteed to never fall for a Ponzi scheme are people who never have any money to invest. Ponzi schemes work because the stories are convincing and often backed up with fake documents that look real.

Word is that a lot of local doctors are victims. If you are a doctor-victim, the problem is not that you are dumb (although you may be). The problem is that you live in a state where your profession is at the top of the wage earning ladder.

You’re a target. Get used to it. This will not be the last time. Educate yourself. Don’t be a financial dummy. Don’t trust anyone with your money. Not an accountant, investment advisor, stockbroker, attorney or anyone else. Trust must be earned–not given.

If someone tells you that you can make 10% on an investment and it’s not risky–run. It’s either very risky, or it’s a scam. That may not have been the case in the 80’s when interest rates were 15%. It’s definitely the case now with 10-year treasuries paying 3%.

But there is a foolproof way to make 10 or even 20%. It’s guaranteed. There are no risks. You don’t have to trust anyone with your money. And I’m willing to share this big secret with you for free. Here it comes. Wait for it…..

SPEND LESS MONEY

Live below your means. Banks and brokerage firms let you open as many accounts as you want. Get money out of your checking account into other accounts where you are less likely to spend it. Tell yourself that if you are ever going to accumulate wealth, you have to slow your burn rate.

I’m really sorry if that’s not as appealing as a Ponzi scheme promising 20% returns. But I guarantee you that if you save 20% of your salary this year, you just made a 20% return.