Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bankrupt man sells famous hotel in London

An unemployed, bankrupt man in England recently sold the Ritz hotel building in London. The only problem was he didn't own it:

Last month, Lee, an undischarged bankrupt who had a police caution for theft and was behind with his rent at the time of the scam, was found guilty of obtaining the £1m by deception.

I guess if something seems too good to be true... One of the following examples is about a guy who used to sell New York City landmarks for a living. He apparantly "sold" the Brooklyn Bridge twice a week to unsuspecting tourists hoping to cash in on toll booths. We should try this with the Peace Bridge here in Buffalo. Maybe, the twin span might eventually get built.

Other landmark scams
While Anthony Lee's scam was outrageous, it was by no means original. Selling famous landmarks to gullible businessmen is nothing new.

* In 1925 after reading about the great expense involved in the upkeep of the Eiffel Tower, Victor Lustig saw his opportunity. He "sold" it to Andre Poisson for 250,000 francs. Poisson was too embarrassed to go to the police so Lustig "sold" it again, to a scrap metal dealer. This time the man did go to the police.

* In 1947 George C Parker made a living selling New York landmarks to tourists. He sold the Brooklyn Bridge twice a week for years, telling people they could charge people to cross the bridge. Police often had to remove people setting up their own toll booths.

* Arthur Ferguson traded in British landmarks after the First World War. He sold several landmarks many times, charging $5,000 for Big Ben, $30,000 for Nelson's Column and took $10,000 for Buckingham Palace.
The man who tried to sell the Ritz - Crime, UK - The Independent

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