CHAPTER LXXII. GIFT ENTERPRISES.
Complaints from the victims of this infamous swindle, became so numerous, that the police authorities seized the premises of Clark, Webster &Co., and all their books and papers. These last comprised six truck loads, and contained printed or written directories of every city and town in the Union. No such persons as Clark, Webster &Co., could be found. A man calling himself William M. Elias, claimed to be the owner of the books and papers, and endeavored to regain possession of them by legal process. The Police Commissioners, knowing what use he intended to make of them, refused to surrender them, and gave bonds. Elias was arraigned before the Tombs Police Court, on a charge of swindling, by some of his victims. The Court room was full of those who had suffered by the grand lottery. The proceedings amounted to nothing, and as the man left the Court room, he was followed by the excited crowd, and severely pelted with snow balls, until the police came to his assistance.
Messrs. Reade &Co., who profess to do business at No. 6 Clinton Hall, Astor Place, are extensive swindlers. The police have made rigid searches for them several times. They have arrested the clerks and managers, but have failed to discover the principals, who, doubtless, have no real existence.
A CLEVER SWINDLE.
Many of these swindlers adopt the following system. They send a circular to some one in the country, notifying him that he has drawn a prize in their lottery. The circular used by one of these firms is as follows:
MR. - - ,
ROCHESTER, NEW YORK.
DEAR SIR: You are hereby notified that ticket No. 5,114, has drawn a gold watch, valued at two hundred dollars. Five per cent. on the valuation is ten dollars. The percentage must be paid or forwarded within twelve days from the date of this notice.
Those receiving prizes, in the preliminary drawing, receive them with this understanding, that they will either buy tickets in our grand distribution that takes place in November, or use their influence in every possible way to sell tickets. Any parties receiving this notice, who are not willing to assist in our grand enterprise, will please return the ticket and notice as soon as received.
HALLETT, MOORE &Co.,
Bankers and Financial Managers,
575 BROADWAY, NEW YORK.
By Order of the
NEW YORK JEWELLERS' CO-OPERATIVE UNION.
N. B. - No prizes will be shipped until the percentage is received.
We shall be ready in fifteen days to fill orders for tickets in the grand distribution of five millions of dollars' worth of goods, the drawing of which is to take place in the building of the New York Jewellers' Cooperative Union, November 16, 1868.
By order of the BOARD OF DIRECTORS.
The person receiving this circular well knows that he has purchased no ticket in the above concern, and at once supposes that he has received through mistake the notification intended for some other man. Still, as the parties offer to send him, for ten dollars, a watch worth two hundred dollars, he cannot resist the temptation to close with the bargain at once. He sends his ten dollars, and never hears of it again.
Another plan is to notify every one who has bought a ticket that he has drawn a prize, and demand five per cent. on it. The value is always stated at two hundred dollars, and the amount asked is ten dollars. Strange as it may seem, this ruse succeeds in a majority of instances. The luckless ticket holders are delighted with their good fortune, and send the assessment at once. They never see their money or their prize.
The scoundrels who carry on these enterprises feel perfectly safe. They know that their victims dare not prosecute them, as by purchasing a ticket a man becomes a party to the transaction, and violates the laws of the State of New York. No one cares to avow himself a party to any such transaction, and consequently the swindlers are safe from prosecution.
The post-office authorities of the city state that over five hundred letters per day are received in this city from various parts of the country, addressed to the principal gift establishments of the city. Nearly all of these letters contain various sums of money. Last winter these mails were seized and opened, by the Post-office Department, and some of the letters were found to contain as much as three hundred dollars.
The profits of these swindlers are enormous. Those which are well conducted realize half a million of dollars in three or four months. Instead of resting satisfied with this amount, the rogues close up their business, and start a fresh enterprise.
From this description the reader will see how the various gift enterprises, under whatever name they are presented, are managed, and how certain he is to lose every cent he invests in them. The description applies also to the various Manufacturing and Co-operative Jewelry Associations, and all schemes of a kindred nature.