Monday, January 28, 2008

Grifters Hit Jamaica Plain

Not so much a history of Jamaica Plain as simply a good story.

Boston Daily Globe January 13, 1897

Change Numbers On Houses.

Fraud That One Gang of Sharpers Have Been Perpetrating on the People of Jamaica Plain.

There have been many frauds perpetrated in Boston, but the latest one which police have seen fit to warn the public against is the most unique. It is so bold that if it were not mentioned on the police manifold the public might doubt the story being true.

This is a fraud in which a man and a boy are engaged. Their scheme has never been operated in Boston before. The pair of swindlers made their first appearance in Boston about a week ago. They drove into the district of Jamaica Plain with a bay horse and a green wagon, and began work on one of the most fashionable streets. They began at the end of the street and worked every house.

Placing new numbers on the houses was their scheme. The man rang the front door bell and informed the mistress of the house that orders had been given to change the numbers on every house. In most instances the owner thought that the order was compulsory and allowed the man to take off the old number and put on a new one. A number of the residents objected, and said that they didn't want the man to touch the number, at least until Mr ---- came home. In such instances as these, the man said that he had the authority to change numbers, and the persons who tried to prevent him might get into trouble. This threat had its effect. The owner thought it was an order from the street department, and felt that it must be obeyed. The result has been that almost everywhere the pair of frauds went they were allowed to go on with their work and collect the money after they had finished.

Just how extensively the plan has been operated is not known, but if they did as well in every part of the city as they did at Jamaica Plain, they have reaped a harvest. One fact which the police are certain of is that the men have operated only in the suburban districts. Their reason for doing this is plain. Inside the city proper there would be more danger of being caught perpetrating their fraud, for patrolmen are more numerous than they are in the suburban districts.

The fraud was doubly effective because those who allowed the man to change the numbers of their dwellings are now compelled to replace the number, for there has been no order to change.

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