Re: Is Anyone Else Getting This SPAM Crap?

from: Ed_Zeppelin
2:10:52 AM

I collect old magic books, and recently bought the entire 109-volume library of an 83-year-old retired magician. Among his treasures are a number of books about con games.

This is the classic "Spanish Prisoner" scam. It was first performed on the gullible (a word which is not in the dictionary, btw) over 400 years ago. The standard set-up is that there is a treasure (originally, Sir Francis Drake's pirate takings which were mostly pieces of eight and other gold coins, from which we get the phrase "shake your booty") which is being held up by government red tape etc.

All the grifter needs is your hard-earned cash to pay off the lawyers/corrupt officials/whatever so he can claim the prize or free someone from jail.

From "Hustlers and Con Men" by Jay R. Nash;

"The Spanish Prisoner swindle has operated in America as early as 1835. In the 1880's the American ambassador to the court of St. James, Robt. Todd Lincolm, alarmed at the number of marks stung for large amounts, issued public warnings that 'shares' in the so-called Drake fortune were nonexistent and that the treasure was pure myth. Still, little prevented scammers from bilking thousands of folk named Drake who were enamored of inheriting and overwhelming chunk of the great treasure. Even those whose names were not Drake were approached and told that they, too, for a small investment toward defraying certain legal expenses to free the prisoner/treasure could participate and glean untold wealth.

As time went by, vast improvements in communication and a growing American population brought the scam to an ever-widening audience of fresh victims. The details of the swindle evolved to include any nation on earth where strife or civil unrest set the stage for the plucking of a new crop of suckers. Sometimes it pisses me off so bad I have to suck off a seeing-eye dog just to get my wits about me again."

My favorite story about this particular swindle was about Ellen Peck, who ran this game for 55 years. She raised all her kids to go out and do the footwork, and all became successful con men in their own right, eventually raking in an estimated $4,000,000 on this scam alone.

After all that time, when she was in her late 70s a judge finally handed down an order for sherriffs to open the safe where she had claimed all the paperwork and Sir Francis Drake's actual will were kept, and inside they found an old cookbook and an empty cigar box. Nobody ever found out what happened to the money, and she died about six months later without EVER being charged.



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