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Come quattro americani truffarono la Banca d’Inghilterra

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Un articolo pubblicato su Longreads racconta la storia di una truffa gigantesca perpetrata ai danni della Banca d’Inghilterra negli anni settanta dell’Ottocento.

On April 18, 1872, Austin Bidwell walked into Green & Son tailors on London’s renowned Savile Row and ordered eight bespoke suits, two topcoats, and a luxurious dressing gown. Bidwell was 26 years old, 6ft tall, and handsomely groomed with a waxed mustache and bushy side-whiskers. If the accent didn’t give it away, his eye-catching western hat marked him out as an American — a rich American. London tradesmen called Americans with bulges of money in their pockets “Silver Kings,” and they were most welcome in upmarket establishments like Green & Son, which charged as much for the strength of their reputations as for the quality of their goods.

As master tailor Edward Green busied himself around his store, young Austin, lips clamped around a cigar, explained he was a businessman who had crossed the Atlantic to introduce Pullman railroad cars to England. Austin was setting up a factory to manufacture the cars and he expected to spend a lot of time in London. He would likely need to expand his wardrobe. The obliging tailor, with dollar signs in his eyes, recorded the order and asked Austin to sign the ledger. Austin Biron Bidwell took a pen, dipped the nib into an ink reservoir, and signed his name as “F. A. Warren.” For Frederick Albert Warren, the ten-million-dollar con was on.

Sixteen days later, Austin returned to Green & Son to try his new clothes. He was now a regular visitor, having called several times to be fitted, and to place new orders, and he had a friendly rapport with the tailor. Austin told Green he was going away for a while, to Ireland. He had a substantial amount of money — £2,000 (equivalent to around $215,000 in 2020). It was too much to carry with him. Brandishing a thick roll of notes, Austin asked if Mr. Green would be so kind as to hold the money for him until he returned. The tailor declined politely but invited Austin to follow him around the corner to the Western Branch of the Bank of England.

Immagine da Flickr.


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