Editor's note: The following text is from the August 3, 1831 issue of "Cabinet" , Schenectady, New York. Thank you to Contributing Scholar George A. Thompson for finding and cataloging this article. The language, spelling and grammar of the article reflects the time period when it was written.
Fortune Telling – A system of fraud has been lately followed in this city, to a considerable extent, which is important the public should have a knowledge of, that they may guard against impositions. A man named Pierce has been in the practice of enticing people from the country to houses on pretence of getting their fortunes told, and he would then fleece them out of their money. His practice was to leave the city until he ascertained that the cheated person had gone off, and he would then return and practice his villanies on others. Complaints had sometimes been made to the police officers, but they could never get Pierce, until the complainant had left the city, and there was then no evidence to convict him. But last week the biter got bit.
One or two weeks ago, a man from Vermont, named Carey, who had engaged a passage to the west, in a canal boat, was accosted by Pierce, who told him he was going in the same boat, and by his attentions to him become ingratiated in his favor. He proposed to C. to go and get their fortunes told.
In going across one of the pier bridges, they met a man named Brown; P. pretended to be a stranger to him, and asked him where there was a fortune teller. B. said he was one. They then went into a store on the pier, where B. commenced telling P's fortune, and the latter expressed his great astonishment that he could tell him so correctly, how old he was and where he was born, & c. He then urged Carey to have his fortune told, but C. declined. P. and B. then began to bet on the turning up of cards.
Finally B. offered to bet $50 that he would turn up a particular card after the pack had been shuffled by his adversary. Pierce said he had but $210 with him, and after much urging, he persuaded Carey to lend him forty dollars. The particular card was not turned up, when P. seized the money and immediately left the room. Carey could not find him afterwards. He made complaint to the police, but Pierce could not be found, having gone off as usual. The police advised Carey to leave the ciy in the boat in which he had engaged to go to the western part of the state, but to stop a few miles out for town for a short time, and advise where he could be found, in case they secured Pierce. The plan succeeded; Pierce, having ascertained that Carey had gone, and supposing him far away from the city, returned, intending no doubt to renew his schemes on others. But the officers of Justice laid their hands on him, and having obtained the attendance of Carey, the cunning Mr. Pierce was committed to prison, and will be tried next week. He has been taught the lesson that simple honest is better than the deepest craft.
Brown left the city at the same time with Pierce. He also has since been arrested. Albany Gazette
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