Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Swindling the old lady of Threadneedle Street.

I just stumbled across another interesting crime story involving some Americans incarcerated at Woking Convict Invalid Prison. In 1873, the Bidwell brothers robbed the Bank of England of a whopping £500,000.

So how did they pull off such an audatious heist?

In short, they discovered that the Bank of England allowed people to draw against bills of acceptance (cheques??) from large institutions without checking to see if they were genuine. They set up an account for 'Horton and Co', impressed the bank manager 'most favourably', then waved some genuine bills under his nose (to establish their credit) before commencing the forgeries which netted them half a million pounds cash!

Easy peazy lemon squeezy.

The following article was published in the New York Times in 1892. It tells the story of how the Bidwell brothers' sister fought tirelessly for their release and gives some interesting insight into the Victorian prison system. Read the Bidwell brothers article here

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