The Spanish Swindle, Spam mail in 1913

It seems spam mail is nothing new as I discovered in this letter in the National Archives at Kew.

From the British Embassy in Madrid received by the British Colonial Office on 26th February 1913.

 Sir,

 I should be grateful if you would allow me to call attention in your columns to the so-called “Spanish Swindle.” This time-honoured fraud continues to be practiced upon the unwary by a gang of ingenious swindlers established in Madrid and other Spanish towns. Assisted by accomplices in England they single out their victims and extract money from them by means of a letter which is generally to the following effect:–       

       A Spanish prisoner who is dying in a military prison desires to provide for his daughter. He possesses a large fortune secreted somewhere, and offers to transfer it to his correspondent if the latter will maintain and educate the child. Certain obligations, however, must first be discharged, and for this purpose about £100 is to be forwarded in bank-notes to a given address where the prison chaplain will receive the sum and escort the girl to England. The fortune will then be handed over. The story is usually supported by forged documents and newspaper cuttings.

 I hope this letter may serve to put some prospective victims on their guard. Persons receiving letters such as I have indicated would do well to communicate with His Majesty’s Embassy,

                                                                                                                               Yours faithfully,     

Arthur H. Hardinge,  

His Britannic Majesty’s Ambassador.  

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