This co lumn ran in the Nov. 16 edition of the Prairie Post.
They say there is nothing new in the world.
There is a scam thatâ€™s been going around the Internet for years where a thief contacts someone who has something to sell. The crook sends a check for more than the amount of the items saying it was the only check he had.
The victim is asked to cash the check, keep what theyâ€™re owed, and send the rest of the money back to the scam artist.
Of course the original check is no good but by the time the victim learns that their money is gone.
In our modern world of the Internet the thief and victim donâ€™t even have to be on the same continent.
The same scam was going on 99 years ago. Of course there was no Internet back then so the thief and victim probably had to actually talk to each other.
And the thief was called a swindler, not a scam artist.
The swindler in this case would travel to a new town and check into the local hotel before paying a visit to the local music supply store. There he would pick out items like a new Victrola and a few other items that totaled up to about $250.
The newspaper articles of the day note the swindler seemed to prefer music stores but had no reason why.
Heâ€™d then give the store a check for $300 drawn on the James River National Bank of Jamestown. Heâ€™d ask the store for his change back, usually about $50, and tell them to keep the merchandise until they confirmed the check was good before delivering the goods to the hotel.
Of course when the store found out the check wasnâ€™t good the swindler, and the change he collected from his bad check, were gone on to the next town.
The crime was committed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Spokane, Medford, Oregon and Bismarck. The swindler used different names in many of the cases but was consistent in using a bad check drawn from the James River National Bank of Jamestown. The checks were embossed with a Protectograph. This device stamped the check with a maximum amount the check could be made out for and made the check look official.
This little story tells us a few things.
First off, even among criminals there is nothing new in the world. Just the same ideas even if they utilize different technology.
And a crook could travel a lot further on $50 back in 1911 than they can now.