Monday, January 28, 2008

Francisco Miranda- The Subtle Swindler

During the Aussie gold rush in the 1850's there were many who were gold diggers of a different type.
One of these went by the name of Francisco Miranda and he was such a thorough and patient con man, no one realised they been dudded till after he departed our shores.

In 1857 the Joint Stock Bank in Sydney opened a letter from a London banking mob called Baring Brothers, stating a Portuguese bloke called Francisco Miranda was taking the sea air on his way over to the colony and, by the way, he's good for credit up to 20,000 pounds.

The gentleman himself breezed into Sydney in October 1857 and promptly said 'G'day' to the Spanish Consul who took him by the hand and introduced him to the manager of the Joint Stock Bank.

Francisco was lucky his nose didn't grow with the more than few porkies he rattled off to the manager ; he stated he was going to buy a Melbourne estate "so go ahead and cash in my letters of credit, pullll-eeeze, maaaaate ".

When he rocked up in Melbourne, slippery Francisco presented his letter of credit from the Joint Stock Bank to the bank teller of The Bank of Australia and cashed himself up to the tune of £20,000 as he was off to Castlemaine to complete a land deal...or so he said.
He'd missed the coach to Castlemaine that day but he parked his luggage in the coach-office overnight.
Francisco Miranda picked up his odds and ends the next day and that was the last anyone saw of Francisco Miranda in Australia.

Melbourne police heard on the grapevine that a Frenchman, Monsieur Le Prairie, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the missing gold toting Portuguese bloke, had sailed for South America on the (ironically) named ship Good Intent.
Of course it all came out in the wash that the letters and bills of credit from the banks in England were forgeries and Francisco Miranda aka Le Prairie had pulled the same stunt on several banks in South Africa.

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