March 3 is the birthday of Charles Ponzi, the pioneer of the con that defrauded investors out of millions of dollars in the 1920s. In celebration, Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen is reminding Montanans to be cautious of Ponzi schemes.

"For those who don't know, Ponzi schemes are when you're asked to invest in something and then you're going to get great returns," Lindeen said. "What's happening really is that the person is bringing investors in and using their money to pay you the returns on the investment. Eventually it falls down on itself because they just can't bring enough investors in to keep it going."

Lindeen said several Ponzi schemes have been shut down in the state and have cheated investors of millions dollars. Lindeen says the auditor’s office has several more cases currently under investigation.

"The first thing you want to do is if you're looking at investing in something, you want to call our office at 800-332-6348. You want to make sure that the person who is trying to sell you this investment opportunity is licensed with the state of Montana," Lindeen said. "It's always good to actually talk with somebody else before you invest, too. Once you've invested, you want to make sure you're monitoring those investments and asking questions."

Lindeen said if someone is offered an investment that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.