Photo of the Day

Photo Of The Day

Photo: The Travel Channel. The Brassiere Brigade, a group of women concocted a titillating scheme of deception. More than a dozen people accused of scheming to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in coins from Southern Bell Telephone were tried, and several were convicted. Six women were nicknamed the “Brassiere Brigade” for allegedly stuffing coins into their bras.

Photo: The Travel Channel.
The Brassiere Brigade, a group of women concocted a titillating scheme of deception. More than a dozen people accused of scheming to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in coins from Southern Bell Telephone were tried, and several were convicted. Six women were nicknamed the “Brassiere Brigade” for allegedly stuffing coins into their bras.

The Brassiere Brigade

The Case of the Silver Falsies

In September 1950, police in Miami, Florida accidentally discovered a crime ring that had been stealing thousands of dollars from the local phone company for years. The thieves were young women employed in the counting room of the Southern Bell Telephone Company. They were smuggling money out of the building by hiding coin rolls in their bras. The combination of attractive young women, lingerie, and money proved irresistible to the media, and the exploits of the “brassiere brigade” made headlines across the nation.

The crime took advantage of how the Southern Bell Telephone Company processed money it collected from pay phones. After coins were collected from the phones, the money was placed in sealed boxes and brought to the counting room. Here young female employees removed the coins from the boxes and placed them in automatic counting machines. The count made by the machines was the first official record of pay phone revenue.

A few of the female employees  figured out that it was easy to surreptitiously stuff rolls of coins down their bras before the money was placed in the machines. Because the money had not been counted yet, the phone company would not realize the money was missing. It was, essentially, a perfect crime.

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Photo Of The Day

Charles Ponzi

Charles Ponzi

Give Me Your Money

Charles Ponzi Had All Of Boston Trying To Give Him Money

Anyone can work a simple swindle, but you have to be a special kind of con man to have your name become synonymous with “fraud.” Charles Ponzi pulled it off, though.

 It was a time when anything seemed possible–instant wealth, glittering fame, and fabulous luxury–and for a run of magical weeks in the spring and summer of 1920, Ponzi made it all come true. Promising to double investors’ money in three months, the dapper, charming Ponzi raised the “rob Peter to pay Paul” scam to an art form. At the peak of his success, Ponzi was raking in more than $2 million a week at his office in downtown Boston. Then his house of cards came crashing down–thanks in large part to the relentless investigative reporting of Richard Grozier’s Boston Post. A classic American tale of immigrant life and the dream of success, Ponzi’s Scheme is the amazing story of the magnetic scoundrel who launched the most successful scheme of financial alchemy in modern history.

After arriving in the U.S. from Italy in 1903, Ponzi knocked around in a variety of unskilled jobs that usually ended when he got into trouble for theft or cheating customers. A few years later, he moved to Canada, where he spent a hitch in prison for passing a forged check. When he eventually drifted back down to the U.S., he needed a way to make some quick cash.

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Photo Of The Day

The Berners Street Hoax.

The Berners Street Hoax.

The Berners Street Hoax

The year was 1809. Famed English author, Theodore Hook, made a bet with one of his close friends, the noted architect and writer, Samuel Beazley, that within one week, he could make any house in London the most talked about place in the city. The house he ended up choosing was the home of the widow Mrs Tottenham on 54 Berners Street, London, which was the same street that Earl Stanhope and the Bishop of Carlisle and of Chester, among other wealthy and well-to-do individuals, lived on at that time.

Mrs Tottenham herself was described by newspapers as “a woman of fortune, it isn’t known why Hook chose Mrs Tottenham’s home as no connection between the two is known and Hook himself never explained his selection. It’s entirely possible that it just happened to be a location where the home across the street could be rented and was also in a fairly well-to-do part of town which would help assure Hook’s plan would work.

At around 4 AM on Monday, November 26, Hook picked up Beazley and the two went to a rented room across from the soon-to-be-infamous home at 54 Berners Street. Remember, this was an upscale location just off Oxford Street. This was a part of London where Lords, Ladies and Earls lived. As the two huddled in the pre-dawn darkness, Hook pointed across the street to the large home, which was owned by Mrs Tottenham.

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Photo Of The Day

Delphine La Laurie

Delphine La Laurie

The Twisted Tale Of Delphine La Laurie

And Her House Of Horrors

Over 200 years ago, a torture chamber was discovered in the attic of a wealthy socialite. Through the years, the tale of her brutality has grown and shifted, and today, it is difficult to discern fact from fiction in the story of Delphine La Laurie and her house of horrors.

Born in 1775 to Barthelmy Louis Macarty and Marie Jeanne Lovable, the Macarty’s were prominent among New Orleans society, having emigrated to the Big Easy from Ireland in the 1730s.

The extent to which slavery impacted Delphine’s early life is difficult to tell. Some accounts say that her mother (and others her father) was murdered by a slave, while others hold that her uncle was killed by his slaves shortly before she was born. Still another version of the tale states that her family was affected by the slave revolt of 1811. In any event, none of these are confirmed by objective sources.

Although one authority says she was 14 when she first married, it is more likely she wed her first husband, Don Ramon de Lopez y Angullo, a Spanish officer of high rank, in 1800. Together they had one daughter before Don Ramon died, sometime around 1804.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo:Bettmann/Corbis

Photo:Bettmann/Corbis

Who Wants to Impersonate a Billionaire?

Few figures in American life have generated as much wild speculation as the eccentric Howard Hughes. So the announcement in 1971 that McGraw-Hill and Life Magazine were about to publish an autobiography of the billionaire hermit naturally incited a media frenzy. The book promised a gloriously lurid tale of money, movie stars, big business, heroic aviation feats, conspiracy theories, plus plenty of bizarre personal habits. Hughes’s autobiography was to be written with the assistance of the writer Clifford Irving, who somehow had managed to secure the paranoid recluse’s trust. Irving claimed he met secretly with Hughes more than a hundred times in Mexico and the Bahamas to tape-record his life story.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo Source Unknown. The streets of Gillingham were lined with thousands of mourners.

Photo Source Unknown.
The streets of Gillingham were lined with thousands of mourners.

The Fireman’s Wedding Disaster

Gillingham Park, Kent, England. For many years the highlight of the summer for local residents was the annual summer fete. Lasting for a couple of days, it also acted as an important fundraiser for the local hospital, St. Bartholomew’s. On the last day of the fete the local fire brigade would enact a wedding ceremony with two firemen dressed as a bride and groom. They would have fun mingling with the crowds for the day, collecting donations for the hospital and in the evening they, along with other “guests” would retire back to their home for their “wedding reception”. The guests were comprised mostly of young Naval Cadets, Sea Scouts and some firemen. The “house” was a simple mock up with three stories lashed together using timbers and a canvas tarpaulin for walls.

The grand finale of the fete was a demonstration of the prowess and skills of the fire brigade as they rescued all of the guests from the house after it mysteriously catches fire. Safety equipment such as hooks and slings were placed in strategic locations and a fireman was charged with the task of lighting smoke fires to simulate the fire.  He would then make his way to the top of the building and sound the alarm to signal the rescue. The boys would wave their hands and cry for help. The escape equipment would be released and the fire brigade, waiting near by would rush in from both the front and rear of the building to rescue the occupants. Once the house was safely emptied of its guests, flammable substances already in place on the first floor would be lit. In an exciting and well-anticipated finale the house would go up in flames for real.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: Courtesy Marcus McSorley/ Roaring Forties Press/AP. Reg Spiers,posted himself in a box from England to Australia. The box being inspected at Perth International Airport.

Photo: Courtesy Marcus McSorley/ Roaring Forties Press/AP.
Reg Spiers,posted himself in a box from England to Australia.
The box being inspected at Perth International Airport.

The Man Who Posted Himself to Australia

Reg Spiers, a near-Olympic-level Australian javelin thrower, found himself stranded in England after failing to qualify for the English Olympic team. Spiers told the BBC earlier this year that his wallet was stolen, leaving him penniless, and that his best option for getting home was to mail himself in a large crate, cash on delivery, and figure out payment when he got home to Australia.

The box was loaded with Spiers himself, a pillow, a blanket, some cans of food, a bottle of water, and an empty bottle as a makeshift bathroom, and sent to Australia.

“I just got in the thing and went. What was there to be frightened of? I’m not frightened of the dark so I just sat there. “It’s like when I travel now if I go overseas. There’s the seat. Sit in it, and go.”

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Photo Of The Day

Photos: Meg Randa/Middlesex News Emily the Cow and Meg Randa show their appreciation for each other.

Photos: Meg Randa/Middlesex News
Emily the Cow and Meg Randa show their appreciation for each other.

Emily The Cow

Ran Away From The Slaughterhouse and Became A Star

She didn’t talk, but her huge eyes and friendly disposition inspired many who met her.

Cancel the Emily Burger! Emily the cow, a 3-year-old Holstein heifer, was all set to walk her last mile at Arena & Sons slaughterhouse in Hopkinton, Mass., west of Boston, when she decided her future wasn’t behind her. Making a prodigious—and very unbovine—five-foot vertical leap over a holding-pen fence and into local legend, she fled to the woods outside town, where she hung out with a herd of deer, dined at a nearby farm, made cameo appearances in downtown Hopkinton and honed her evasion skills. Like some bovine Pimpernel, she was sought everywhere but never captured. “We had her cornered a bunch of times,” says Paul Arena, 40, son of the owner of the slaughterhouse, “but we just couldn’t get her.”

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Photo Of The Day

The Washington Daily News Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, or SINA,  Picketing outside The White House.

The Washington Daily News
Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, or SINA, Picketing outside The White House.

A Nude Horse Is A Rude Horse

Society for Indecency to Naked Animals

Alan and his wife, Jeanne, would go out picketing together. They travelled to the White House and held signs out front pleading with the Kennedys to cover their horse’s private parts.

The media frenzy carried over to the public. While some became outraged, others eagerly joined in on the march to clothe every horse, cat, dog and cow.

ABEL: I work for a society against indecency to naked animals and we have millions of dollars in our private foundation, but we want to educate people about the need to clothe all animals. My props included a half slip for a cow, Bermuda shorts for horses and, you know, burlap sack for a deer.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London. Caroline Giacometti (née Prodgers) (1829-1890), Wife of Giovanni Battista Giacometti; daughter of Edwin Prodgers.

Photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London.
Caroline Giacometti (née Prodgers) (1829-1890), Wife of Giovanni Battista Giacometti; daughter of Edwin Prodgers.

Her Name Struck Fear In The Hearts Of All Cabmen

The name Mrs. Giacometti Prodgers might not mean anything today, but in 19th-century London it was a terror to all cabmen. Cries of “Mother Prodgers” made cab drivers run for the hills, because Mrs. Giacometti Prodgers was a Victorian aristocrat who really, really hated cabbies. Like many eccentric people, her oddities made her less likable.

In the late 1880s, London cab drivers were always on the lookout for Mrs. Giacometti Prodgers (as she always insisted on being referred to by her full and proper name). During a 20-year period, she took more than 50 cab drivers to court over fee technicalities, suing them when they tried to collect a full fare after she requested they stop just short of her destination. Unsurprisingly, this behaviour made Prodgers notorious in Victorian London.

She was so hated she was immortalized in song and in skit form, and burned in effigy on Bonfire Night. Things are annoying. We all have our little grievances and things that drive us mad, and we certainly wish we could do something about it. But few of us take it as far as Mrs. Giacometti Prodgers.

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