YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - The Vindicator, a newspaper serving the town of Youngstown, Ohio since 1869, recently unearthed a fascinating 120-year-old article. The topic? Swindling lumber companies in 1900.
120 years ago, 1900
Youngstown lumber merchants were swindled by a man claiming to be a purchasing agent. He gave his name as “Frank Schmidt” and began his dealings at Dingledy’s Basin Street lumber yard. After putting together an order of $800, Schmidt “remembered” that he left his wallet at the hotel and asked for a small loan to get him through the day. He was given $1.50. The next day, he visited the Mill Street lumber yard of Fred Hoffman and selected more than $900 worth of lumber, shingles, flooring and paper. Schmidt swindled the man out of a small loan when he stated that he’d return after dinner with the full amount. Hoffman loaned him 50 cents and paid for his dinner (with calculated inflation, Schmidt received more than $61 from these men).
Hood and Beard’s lumber yard was his next target but Schmidt changed his name to William Adams. This order was nearly $1,000 but again, he asked for a small loan to help cover his expenses until after dinner. The merchants loaned him $2 and asked Adams to meet them at the Tod House to finalize the purchase. When they visited the Tod House they were told that no such man existed.
The story continues:
He attempted his scheme again for $1,100 at the Hoffman Brothers yard where he was loaned 50 cents, but his luck started to run out. It had finally dawned on the business owners that these large purchases were simply too good to be true. The telephone rang before he left and the caller warned the Hoffman Brothers to be on the lookout for this so-called “Schmidt.” He was kicked out of the office and ran toward downtown. All of the local lumber dealers came together to wallow in their misery, some thinking it a joke that each of them was swindled.
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