DEAR READER, I TRUST YOU WILL TREAT THIS MINNEAPOLIS TRIBUNE REPORT WITH THE UTMOST DISCRETION. A FULL CENTURY BEFORE YOU DELETED THE LATEST NIGERIAN E-MAIL SCAM TO HIT YOUR IN-BOX, YOUR GREAT-GRANDFATHER MIGHT HAVE BEEN TOSSING ASIDE A SIMILAR LETTER POSTMARKED "SPAIN." THE SPANISH SCAMMER OF 1910 USED SLIGHTLY BETTER ENGLISH, BUT THE PREMISE WAS EQUALLY PREPOSTEROUS.
Fraud Letters Flood State
Postal Inspector Warns People To Beware of Hoary-Whiskered Spanish Appeals
The attention of M.C. Fosnes, post-office inspector, has been called to an influx of fraud letters from Spain to persons in the Twin Cities and he believes that whoever is operating the hoax is receiving some returns from this territory and warns the public not to “bite” at the alluring bait. The letters have been many and the Spanish person is apparently untiring in his efforts in Minnesota. Many of the letters have been sent to the inspector.
The following is a sample of the letters received by Victor Segerstom, of the Segerstrom Piano company, and Harry Olstein, 205½ Washington avenue north:
Dear Sir – Although I know you only from good references of your honesty, my sad situation compels me to reveal you an important affair in which you can procure a modest fortune saving at the same time that of my darling daughter.
Before being imprisoned here, I was established as a banker in Russia as you will see by the enclosed article about me of many English newspapers which have published my arrest in London.
I beseech you to help me to obtain a sum of 480,000 dollars I have in America and to come here to raise the seizure of my baggage paying to the registrar of the court, the expenses of my trial and recover my portmanteau containing a secret pocket where I have hidden the document indispensable to recover said sum.
As a reward I will give up to you the third part, viz., 160,000 dollars. I cannot receive your answer in the prison, but you must send a cablegram to a person of my confidence who will deliver it to me.
Awaiting your cable to instruct you in all my secret, I am sir,
Mr. Fosnes, in warning the public, says: “Instead of the writer being a wealthy party in temporary distress, he is a miserable Spanish scoundrel who very likely has been in jail many times. There may be a number of scoundrels working the same line of graft. Every dollar sent to Spain or sent for cablegrams is a tribute to rascality. Better throw the money into the Mississippi river.”
|February 1912: Sorting the mail at the Minneapolis post office at Third and Marquette. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)|
Star Tribune Recommends
More From Yesterday's News
A Minneapolis Tribune photographer followed the Donald F. Anderson family into the wilds of northern Minnesota and captured the images below for Picture magazine.
Daniel Hoyt telephoned City Clerk Knott yesterday that he had shot a coyote "at 30 rods" from his house, 395 Twenty-third avenue southeast, and that he would appear soon at the city hall to claim a bounty of $7.50.
Before Fixit, there was Mr. Fixit, a quirky amalgam of Dear Abby, Google and T.D. Mischke. He deftly answered questions about food stains, home repair and city ordinances. But he also offered advice to the lovelorn and offbeat philosophical musings. And if you had a question of an extremely personal nature, he'd send you a response by mail, provided you sent him a stamped, self-addressed envelope. An interactive feature of the first order!
Thanks to Prohibition, criminal gangs plagued the Twin Cities in the 1920s and '30s. A corrupt St. Paul Police Department provided safe haven to gangsters and crooks of the era, as long as they agreed to stay out of trouble while in the city. The task of keeping the bad boys in line fell to "Dapper Dan" Hogan, a speakeasy owner and underworld leader. On December 4, 1928, Hogan, "whose word was known to be law among many criminals," was killed by a car bomb in the garage behind his St. Paul home. Rival gangsters were the likely culprits, but his murder was never officially solved.
"Women of the flats stood guard over their thresholds while police attempted to eject them for failure to pay rent on the grounds on which the dwellings stand. A near-riot was halted when a second court order was served on police, ordering a stay of the ejections."