In some ways, you can’t help but admire an enterprising young man by the name of Frank Pickford, who, in May, 1888, decided to work a swindle on, not some ordinary person, put on some of the Members of Parliament.
The Echo newspaper took up his story in its edition of Saturday the 5th of May, 1888:-
MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT SWINDLED
The modern Member of Parliament is considered as fair game by all sorts of impecunious people – from the rector, who wants to set up a new stained-glass window in his chancel, to the members of a cricket club, who are too stingy to pay for their own bats and balls, everybody claims his patronage.
If he is a Tory, the very Dissenters who spoke and canvassed against him are not ashamed to ask him to lay their foundation-stones and open their bazaars; and if he is a Liberal, he is yet invited to subscribe to the Church schools or the Church choir by his chief political enemies.
AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE
Of late, too, the provincial Member in London is regarded by his constituents very much as a British Consul in a foreign port is regarded by British subjects.
The idea has grown up that he is the official representative of the borough or county, and that to him every local man stranded in the Metropolis should apply in his hour of need.
THE ENTERPRISING FRANK PICKFORD
A certain Frank Pickford, who, though young in years, had deeply studied human nature, having observed how close the relation between Members and constituents had grown, hit upon the brilliant idea of turning it to account.
His plan was to be a constituent, or the son of a constituent, who was, of course, a supporter of the M.P. on whom he called, and he was always in the unfortunate position of having been robbed of his purse, and requiring the means of returning home.
It does not seem to have occurred to those upon whom he called that by sending a sixpenny telegram he could obtain a remittance by the, following morning.
HE WAS FINALLY CAUGHT
He waited upon nearly fifty Members before he was caught, and appears to have been successful with a good many.
Even when he was caught at last it was not by a swindled M.P., but by a lady victim.
As he is rewarded with six months’ hard labour other swindlers may perhaps be deterred from working this profitable mine.