One common thread through all Articles in this series (Nineteenth Century Mail-Order Bride SCAMS) is the criminal’s intention to capitalize on their victims’ loneliness and desire for love and companionship.
Some brides-elect and grooms-elect actually had their intellect about them enough to recognize when things weren’t quite right (even if fraud was not involved in one out of three incidences)… and made prudent decisions about their course of action.
Detective Clifton R. Wooldridge made a difference on the streets of wicked Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. Some of the 100 fraudulent matrimonial agencies he shut down are captured in newspaper articles from the era. A significant scam involving Mail-Order Brides, mentioning Detective C.R. Wooldridge is featured in this article.
In 1865 (34 years earlier than Franks’ scheme), a similar incidence in New England didn’t get quite so far but caused quite a stir.
A man with two wives (neither knows about the other) seeks yet two more, entirely to swindle them of their means. This 1899 tale is so well worth reading.
Franks, as he presents himself on the West Coast, in the middle of defrauding women through multiple marriage agencies is scammed, himself, by a wealthy widow in demand of a expensive courtship.
Amateur historians will find myriad details worth noting, such as the communication of chiefs of police, use of the term “dead beat,” laws on the books, and so much more.
I believe FACT is stranger than FICTION.
And often the BEST fiction is solidly founded in FACT. Hence my keen interest in the truth of Matrimonial Agencies, Matrimonial Personal Advertisements, and real-life stories of couples connected through the mail in the nineteenth Century.