Posts Tagged ‘Merrill’


A Fancy Graft From Old Madrid

   Posted by: admin    in Crime

The Fort Dodge Messenger: April 23, 1903

A Fancy Graft From Old Madrid

Historic City of Old Spain Produces Scheme to Get Other People’s Dollars

Dons After Sioux City Man

Make Bungling Attempt to Interest Victim in Alleged Secret Drawer of Money

Sioux City April 22 – The green goods, the gold brick and the fake mining stock games are not to be compared with the graft which has been sprung in old Madrid – not Madrid, Iowa, but Madrid, Spain.

William Merrill, of the office of Smiley, McCormick & Co., real estate and loan brokers in the Bolton block, has been picked out for a sucker, but the selection may cost the grafters dearly. Mr. Merrill will turn over the correspondence in the case to the postal authorities, and it is not unlikely that the matter may be taken up by the state department at Washington.

The head grafter represents himself as being Luis Bodriguer Merrill, formerly clerk to the Interoceanic Canal of Panama company. He says he has £ 98,600 of securities in a secret drawer in Paris, the contents of which he desires to divide with Mr. Merrill of Sioux City.

He also declares that he desires to send his beautiful daughter aged 14, to Sioux City, to live wiht Mr. Merrill until he may be released from prison.

Like the green goods and gold brick letters, the one to Mr. Merrill is printed, his name being written in at the top and at various places in the letter. The name “Merrill” also is attached in ink to the name “Luis Bodriguer” in the signature. The attempt to deceive is bungling.

“The dagoes must have thought we people over in America were all dummies,” Mr. Merrill said, with some heat. “Well I will just see if it won’t be possible to show them a thing or two.”

The letter is dated at Madrid, Spain, March 25, and the substance is as follows:

“Being placed into a very hard trouble without being by myself able to come out of it by the great conflict made by my situation and knowing your generosity and noble feelings, I write to you, hoping you will accept the proposals I am going to make to you, although we are foreigners to each other. Only by telling you that my mother was a near relative to your family and that by her name, Mrs. Anna Merrill (here the name Merrill is written in just as Johnson or Jones might have been used), you shall understand our blood relationship.

The principal reason of my addressing you after never having entertained any relations with you is that my dear and deceased mother, in spite of the difference that compelled her not to entertain any of her paternal relatives but always spoke to me very highly of your talents and honesty, and consequently, I am wholly sure that you shall keep a great discretion of the contents of this letter and accept of what I am going to tell you. I also write to you, because you are in a free country which you shall be able to accede to the plans I have thought of. Is it dear to me that my young daughter, only 14 years old may find at your side and under your protection the future that I has assured her out of the troubles she should find here.

The writer goes on at length to explain his relationship with the canal company and how he managed to get away with the money to Gibraltar. The money was placed safety in a secret drawer, but he was arrested. The letter at this point breaths (sic) blood. It says:

“I was surprised by two police coming brutally to arrest me. I wa provoked and my indignation and despair almost made me mad. I made so great a resistance against them that at last I was beaten and wounded so badly that at the first moments all believed me dead.

“I have been one month without feeling my situation, but I am not well at all and under the fear of a near death by the shock that I received. I am a prisoner of these authorities as having made strength against the officers.

The writer continues in this strain, and finally comes down to his proposition, which he puts in the following language:

“My desires are as follows: It is very easy to get the drawer because the precautions I have been compelled to keep are precisely what assures them until you may be able to come to an arrangement in the matter. you can perfectly see that the assistance that I beg of you can by no means bring any trouble on you when you follow my my (sic) instructions, which you shall know much better when you answer me. You can perfectly know that having not the surety of my letter reaching you, I can not tell you more than what I have told you. I only must pray you to tell me if under the proposition I now have I can trust you to be a second good father to my dear, beautiful daughter, and that I am ready to reward your services by one-fourth part of all the property and the yearly interst that the whole stock may earn when it may be placed by you during my daughter’s minority or until the day she may marry.”

Don Luis “Merrill” attaches his name and then that it must be understood in Sioux City that he is closely watched and that his mail must be sent in care of a priest, D. Manuel Beller, Colla de la Paloma, No. 3, Argamada del Bey, Province of Madrid.

The writer adds:

“The great rectitude of this good priest makes it necessary that he remain unknown at all of this existence of my property, because if he would be informed of it he could perhaps believe me guilty and retire his protection to me and my daughter.”

(Editor’s note: This is quite similar to what is commonly called the Nigerian scam, because many letters or emails like this come from Nigeria.” Also, I debated about using the term “dagoes” which was in the original quote. I am trying to keep this blog historically accurate, but also don’t want to offend people. So I’m hoping that readers will accept it in the spirit of historical accuracy and not be offended.)

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