By Smoki Musaraj
When they collapsed in 1997, the so-called pyramid firms (firma piramidale) in Albania swallowed up the savings of hundreds of thousands of investors and led the country to a near civil war. This article considers how and why investors participated in these fraudulent financial schemes. More specifically, it traces how these firms mobilized kinship networks and migrant remittances at a time of massive migration abroad, following the post-socialist transformations of the early nineties. I argue that, in a time of economic instability and lack of access to financial resources, the firms constituted “thresholds of value conversion”; they mobilized different forms of wealth (kin relations, remittances, labor) and enabled (or promised) the creation of new forms of value (financial, social, and cultural).