ponzinomics 101

a guide to conceptualizing and writing smart contracts of all the crazy sick-ass mechanisms you can think of — you’re welcome

Yuuji Fukunaga from Liar Game — best in ponzis, games et al ✨

I have been learning solidity on and off for some time now. But, it hasn't quite stuck. I write nearly every day so I have become quite good at it (no humble brags here 😏) and I would like to make an effort to understand solidity so I can build all the cool p̶o̶n̶z̶i̶ things I have in my head. It will be regularly updated every time I figure out how to build a new mechanism.

High-Level Overview ✨

These mechanisms are meant to be built on Ethereum with Solidity.

Solidity is a statically-typed language that supports inheritance, libraries and complex user-defined types (called structs). It is compatible with JavaScript syntax and it is designed to target the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Solidity is compiled to bytecode that is executable on the EVM.


In a Ponzi scheme, investors may think they’re buying a stake or investing in a real company that produces returns for its investors. In reality, the money generated from a new investment is used to pay off old investors.

Isn't that illegal?

Ponzis are generally illegal. This explainer is for educational and research purposes so I don't expect you to rob your uncle and/or grandma. If the FBI is looking for you — I'm not the one that taught you🤲🏽.

Has this been done before?

Some of the first interactive smart contracts released on Ethereum were verifiable Ponzi schemes.

However, ponzis are named after Charles Ponzi a fine gentleman *coughs* who famously ran a scheme in the 1920s. The most popular Ponzi is the one run by Bernie Madoff, who took in $20 billion in investments over 48 years and used the continued investment to convince investors their holdings were worth $65 billion (sheesh). If you live in Nigeria, you’re probably more familiar with MMM — the popular Russian-originated ponzi that operated from around 2016 to 2019 ish.

Enough talk, how do I build it?

spicy much 🧐

A ponzi takes money sent by an investor and transfers it to older investors in a chain.

For a simple ponzi, you’re going to need variables for the current investor, current investment, and an optional minimum investment to check that new investments are greater than previous ones so investors get a higher return. MMM v1 offered 20 per cent of investments as profits and v2 offered investors 50 per cent gain on any amount that they “invested”.

The current investor is the address of the most recent investor in the contract who hasn't received a return on their investment yet. If no one ever tops their bid, they will lose their investment. The current investment is the amount they stand to lose.

so gambling eh?

As long as each investment is larger than the previous one, every investor except the last will get a return on their investment.

Ponzis in real life try to be a bit more uh credible to present the illusion of actually existing as legitimate establishments.





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Eseoghene Efekodo

Eseoghene Efekodo


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