January 14, 2006

Great Hoax

Posted in Randumb at 6:31 am by Iram

When Therese Humbert heard groans coming from the next railway compartment she bravely climbed along the outside of the train to see what she could do. In the compartment she found a man who had just had a heart attack. She climbed in and helped him, and the man, Robert Henry Crawford, said he would be eternally grateful to her for saving his life and would reward her one day. Two years later, in 1881, Therese received a letter saying that Crawford had died and made her a beneficiary in his will. The will said that Therese was to look after the family fortune, which was locked in a safe, until her younger sister, Marie, was old enough to marry one of Crawford’s two nephews. The story of the inheritance enabled Therese and her husband to obtain loans and improve their lifestyle. Eventually, larger loans had to be raised to cover the interest on the original loans. For 20 years, the Humberts were able to live in luxury in spite of attempts to discredit Therese’s story. But by 1902, financiers realized that the amount of the inheritance would not be enough to cover all the loans and legal costs that had arisen. Calls were made for the safe to be opened. When it was opened, the authorities found a brick and an English halfpenny, but by this time the Humberts had disappeared. They were arrested in Madrid in December, 1902. Therese was jailed for five years and her two brothers, who had played the ficitious nephews of the non-existent Robert Crawford, were sentenced to two and three years each.

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