In 1997, the failure of a large-scale Ponzi scheme in Albania not only prompted the European country to fall into financial ruin, but also sparked a mass uprising that toppled the government and was responsible for the deaths of more than 2,000 people. A few years earlier, Albania began to transition into a liberalized market economy after years under the strict dictatorship of Enver Hoxha. The rudimentary financial system that was in place became dominated by pyramid schemes that promised participants substantial returns on their investments. More than two-thirds of Albania's citizens fell for the ruse, drawn in by the promise of wealth they had never experienced, as well as the government's endorsements of the funds from some of the largest companies. By January 1997, Albanians had lost approximately $1.2 billion and took to the streets to protest the government, which they believed were profiting from the schemes. As protests raged on, the country fell into a brief state of lawlessness before U.N. forces stepped in to restore order.