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Another Scam Pulled on York Businesses

Sometimes criminal minds seem brilliant in the convoluted ways they think up to fleece the public. On the other hand, sometimes the schemes are so simple that you wonder how so many people could have fallen for it.
According to the October 12, 1928 Gazette one such con apparently easily separated many York people from their dollars before the perpetrator was caught.

The account reads:


J. Leidy Tatem Under Arrest in Philadelphia on Serious Charges.

…J. Leidy Tatem, 39 years old, is under arrest in Philadelphia and is being held under $5,000 bail. He is believed to be the man who fleeced York county folk out of about $20,000 with a fake detective protection agency.
Tatem was taken into custody at his home in Philadelphia by Thomas Ibbottsen of the Pennsylvania state police….
When arrested Tatem said: ‘This is the end of a perfect day.’ He is said to have accumulated a half million dollars through false pretense but today is penniless with the sheriff close on his trail.
About two years ago Tatem worked through this section of the state selling ‘protection’ under the name of the J. Leidy Tatem Detective Agency. He sold ‘protection’ for $10 in which was included a sign saying that the establishment sold was ‘protected by this agency.’
However, when a robbery occurred, the ‘agency’ failed to comply with the agreement. Complaints rolled into the department at Harrisburg. Tatem had his license revoked. It is said that he sold as many as 89,000 signs through the state of Pennsylvania. From this scheme he is reported to have gathered in approximately $20,000 from this section of the country and $30,000 in Lancaster County.”
Tatem was also charged with other crimes, such as embezzlement and issuing bogus checks, so he didn’t make all his ill-gotten gains through selling $10 “protection” signs. Still, if the reported figures are even close, he must have found 5,000 takers in York County and Lancaster County.
The article doesn’t explain exactly what Tatem promised his customers, but still, you have to wonder: “What were they thinking?”
Click here to read about another swindle twenty years earlier.