Scams from the 1800s
They feel quaint today:
But in the spring of 1859, folks were concerned about another kind of hustle: A man who went by the name of A.V. Lamartine drifted from town to town in the Midwest pretending to attempt suicide.
He would walk into a hotel according to newspaper accounts from Salem, Ore., to Richmond, Va., and other places and appear depressed as he requested a room. Once settled in, he would ring a bell for assistance, and when someone arrived, Lamartine would point to an empty bottle on the table labeled “2 ounces of laudanum” and call for a clergyman.
People rushing to his bedside to help him would find a suicide note. The Good Samaritans would summon a doctor, administer emetics and nurse him as he recovered.
Somehow Lamartine knew his situation would engender medical and financial assistance from kind strangers in the 19th century. The scenarios ended this way, as one Brooklyn reporter explained: “He is restored with difficulty and sympathetic people raise a purse for him and he departs.