Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grace Mordaunt, Master of the Sympathy Confidence Game - 1902


FULL TEXT: Grace Mordaunt, known to the police of several cities as Grace Denning, an attractive-looking woman, was taken to Police Headquarters and photographed for the Rogues’ Gallery yesterday. She was arrested by Detective Sergeants Frank Price and John Farley at the Grand Hotel.

Although only twenty-three years old, she is considered by Capt. Titus, of the Detective Bureau, one of the most clever confidence-women in the country. Her victims are many and her beauty has aided her to her criminal career.

Frank J. Potter, a wholesale paint merchant, of No. 395 Broadway, answered an advertisement in a newspaper which read as follows:

YOUNG WIDOW, financially embarrassed, wishes to raise loan of $100 upon diamond ring; worth twice as much.

Mr. Plotter met Grace in the women’s parlor of the Fifth Avenue Hotel on Sept. 1. The young women, with tears in her eyes, told that she was a widow, and in order to support herself had been forced to pledge a lot of jewelry given to her by her late husband.

“All I have left,” she said, “is this engagement ring.”

Mr. Potter looked at it. He said he did not know anything about diamonds and suggested that they go to a jeweler to have it appraised. A Maiden lane merchant said the ring was worth at least $200. Then the loan was made.

“Please don’t wear this ring,” she said to Mr. Potter, “because it is my engagement ring, and you might lose it. Seal it up and put it in your safe and will be back in ten days to redeem it.”

Then she broke into tears again. The ring was placed in a little tin box, which she sealed. Several days later, Mr. Potter opened the box and found a “fake” diamond ring in the place of the real one. Since then the police have been looking for Grace.

Detective-Sergeant Frank Price answered another advertisement and met the woman by appointment in the Grand Hotel yesterday. She tried the same game on the detective and wag arrested. Mr. Potter identified her. With her was Edward Roberts, alias Jackson, a pickpocket, whose picture is in the Rogues’ Gallery.

In the Jefferson Market Court yesterday the woman was held in $1,000 ball for examination. Roberts was discharged. Capt. Titus has already found three more of Grace’s victims. She was arrested a year ago and sent as a prisoner to Boston, where sentence was suspended.

A male companion at that time was sentenced to State prison for eight years.

[“Grace Mordaunt Only 23, but Police Call, Her Clever Confidence Woman. - Gets Loan On A Ring, Works ‘Flim-Flam’ Game - Posed as a Young Widow in Distress and Found Victims Who Advanced Cash.” The World (New York, N.Y.),  Jan. 17, 1902, p. 12]

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