The $25 million “Baker” scam which conned hundreds of people
Scammers have always preyed on people’s greed and gullibility.
Some of the banking frauds seen over the years have been highly complex, where people with detailed knowledge of the system have used that to exploit it and enrich themselves.
Other scams appear much more simple, and use the tried and tested method of persuading people to part with money with the promise of a lot more money.
What was the Baker scam?
The con dates back to 1839.
it originated in the area of the Pennsylvania where the city of Philadelphia is now located.
Newspaper ads wer published confirming a Colonel Jacob Baker had died, leaving an enormous estate said to be worth $3 billion – a gigantic amount of money for the time.
They claimed Col Baker had no rightful heir.
It was asimple idea, the “heirs” to Col Baker’s vast fortune set up a local association, where people with the surname Baker were able to pool their resources for an upcoming legal battle to recover their share of the inheritance.
The scam was led by a man called William Cameron Morrow Smith.
Need Career Advice? Get employment skills advice at all levels of your career
Put simply, Col Baker never existed and there was no inheritance at all.
Smith and his cronies were simply stealing money.
Smith and his gang stole around $25 million, more than $530 million in today’s money.
The scheme ended in 1936, but it is not known what happened to the scammers following its end.
Given the first newspaper adverts appeared in 1839, the originators would’ve been long dead by the time the fraud came to end.