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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Wed., Jan. 15, 2014

From our archives, 100 years ago

A clever swindler who used the name Shackleford T. Miller tricked the Fidelity National Bank out of $1,700 in Spokane.

The man had opened an account at the bank with $1,700 in cash.

Several months later, he walked into the bank just before noon and told teller J.R. Rotchford that he wanted to withdraw all of his money except the interest. The teller handed him the money and the man left with $1,700 in cash in his pocket.

But he didn’t go far. He apparently watched the bank until he saw Rotchford leave for lunch. Then Miller walked back up to the teller’s window and told the replacement teller that he wanted to withdraw all of his money. Because the previous transaction had not been recorded yet – that happened at the close of the business day – the replacement teller looked at the ledger and saw that Miller still had $1,700 plus interest in the account. So he handed him $1,750 in cash.

Shackleford T. Miller (no doubt a pseudonym) disappeared, having essentially doubled his money.

When the bank discovered the scam that evening, the Pinkerton Detective Agency was called in. They searched the city’s lodging houses and hotels, but they found no trace of Miller. The detectives believed the same man had pulled the swindle in other banks in the Northwest.

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