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George Parker’s Brooklyn Bridge Scheme

the-greatest-scams - George Parker’s Brooklyn Bridge Scheme
George Parker is the American swindler famous as the most intelligent and ingenious con man of the 20th century. George earned his fortune solely on the trust of people, and his only crime was forging documents, which he used for selling particular cultural landmarks.

Parker was supposedly born in New York (New York City) and loved this city so much that he felt himself as its full and rightful owner. There are several legends about how Parker sold the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time: some say the idea was a joke and hoax, but suddenly made gullible tourists interested; others — that George argued with friends that he could sell everything, and they laughed and offered him to sell the most famous bridge of the city. But be that as it may, during the following few years, George sold the bridge twice a week, sometimes even managing to resell the rights of one owner to another. of course, the entire situation is comic because under the laws of the United States no one may carry out financial fraud with the city property.

the-greatest-scams - George Parker’s Brooklyn Bridge Scheme

He made friends with tourists and people directly on the bridge, won confidence, and then reported that he was the owner of this wonderful structure, but — taxes! — often thinking about selling it. Then he started talking about how beneficial it was to own the bridge: you can put the booth and take money from pedestrians, you can even block traffic and make a small fair.

Whether the reason was the low price of the landmark, or George’s natural talent and charisma persuaded gullible tourists. nevertheless it was common for the NYPD to visit the Brooklyn Bridge, and unfortunate owners became the city joke. Parker’s activities soon got expanded: repeatedly he sold sports arena Madison Square Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grant’s Tomb and, of course, the Statue of Liberty. Before a transaction, George showed all the necessary documents to the property, and he himself got introduced as a relative of the original owner or the architect.

the-greatest-scams - George Parker’s Brooklyn Bridge Scheme

An 1883 illustration of fireworks over the Brooklyn Bridge for the bridge’s opening.

Interestingly, over time, Parker opened his own office, but still every time he eluded the police. It should, however, be admitted that the police had quite a warm attitude to the Parker’s ‘jokes’, because they couldn’t be named differently: people urge for money, wishing to have the objects that are state owned. Can’t they represent a greater threat than someone who invited them to reveal their desire to get rich by any means?

The third arrest, however, ended in a serious sentence — life imprisonment. It happened on December 17th, 1928. In prison, Parker turned out to have been heard about, and from the first day he became a major star, having friends among both prisoners and guards, and even among the prison management.

George Parker left his trail in the English language as well.
 “He could be sold the Brooklyn Bridge!” — The Americans say about too gullible people showing carelessness in financial matters.

Historical reference:

 Brooklyn Bridge was opened in 1883, the first documented “sale” of the bridge took place in 1899. Peaches O’Day, a saucy con artist, without further ado, gave an ad in the newspaper: “One bridge in good condition”. A gullible fellow pecked at the bait receiving a bill of sale for $ 200. Peaches had got many followers, but only George Parker became a real scam ace selling landmarks.

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