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  • The Crowd Swindle January 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    The originality of Victorian criminals is often breath-taking. Here is a particularly fine dodge and something that would have made a quite excellent Sherlock Holmes short story.

    A remarkable case of attempting to extort money is reported from New York. Some years ago, it may be remembered, a Mr Rosenbaum, in London, was annoyed in a most extraordinary way. People called at his house at all hours of the day and night, came to breakfast and luncheon, tea and supper, in acceptance of invitations which, as they had said, had been sent by Mr. Rosenbaum, but which in fact he had never issued. The nuisance became intolerable; the unbidden guests poured upon him in one never ending stream until the man’s life became a burden to him. Meantime offers were received to the effect that all this troubling should cease if only a certain sum of money were paid to an unknown individual. After a great deal of search it was found that this individual was one Williamson, formerly a colonel in the Confederate Army who had hit upon the devise [sic] of plaguing Mr. Rosenbaum, with whom he had a lived as a boarder, for the purpose of extorting money from him.

    Nor was this an isolated case. Let’s cross the Atlantic.

    Lately, the Rev. Mr Dix, of New York, has suffered in the same way as Mr. Rosenbaum. Notices have been sent round to ‘All females out of work in New York’ [!],  and to ‘all males out of work’ in the same city, to call between certain hours at Mr Dix’s house in order to hold a meeting on the subject of want of employment. Hundreds of people arrived at the time stated. Similar notifications were sent to others, and Mr Dix, like Mr Rosenbaum, was tormented almost beyond endurance. Meanwhile, he too received notice that his persecutor would leave him alone on the payment of a thousand, which was afterwards raised to fifteen hundred dollars. The affair was put in the hands of the New York Police; but it was no easy matter to trace the offender.  Eventually, by careful comparison of the addresses on the letters and post cards with the signatures at the various New York hotels, combined with a careful scrutiny of the hours when and places where they were posted, the sender was found to be the same Williamson who had been condemned to a twelve months imprisonment in Newgate for his proceedings in London. The man was arrested in Baltimore, whither he had gone from the Windsor Hotel. He denied any intention of irritating Mr Dix but it is to be hoped if the offence is brought to him, his punishment will be sufficient to deter others from following a similar course.

    Nantwich Guardian (17 Apr 1880), 6

    Other examples of this swindle: drbeachcombing AT yahoo Dot com