Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Cassie Chadwick, Andrew Carnegie's Fake Illegitimate Daughter

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest men the world has ever known, had just one child, a daughter named Margaret who was born in 1897 and lived with her parents in New York. But for a period of time in the early 1900s, a woman calling herself Cassie Chadwick had some of the most important people in Cleveland convinced that she was Carnegie’s secret daughter, born from a long-ago affair. The lie was convincing enough that some of her “father’s” closest friends loaned her money—to the tune of an estimated $16.5 million.

Betty Bigley started defrauding people in 1870 at the ripe old age of 13. She told people that her uncle had died and left her a large sum of money, and even wrote a letter that looked so convincing a bank agreed to give her an advance. Not bad for a girl barely in her teens. The deception didn’t last long—Bigley was found out when the money never came through. She apologized and swore never to do it again.

She did, of course. At 22, Bigley purchased expensive stationery and forged another letter from an attorney, saying that a wealthy philanthropist had died and left her $15,000. She even had business cards printed up that said “Miss Bigley, heiress to $15,000,” and handed them out to cement her status. It sounds ridiculous today, but at the time, people were utterly convinced. She had no problem procuring loans from banks and private individuals.

Next, Bigley moved on to Cleveland. She married a doctor and immediately racked up so much debt that Dr. Springsteen divorced her in just 12 days.

After another husband and stints as fortune tellers named Mme. Rose and Mme. Lydia, Bigley married another doctor named Leroy Chadwick and began hatching her Carnegie plan. She arranged to run into an acquaintance of her husband’s during a trip to New York, and asked him if he would mind escorting her to her father’s house for a quick visit. The acquaintance was astonished when the carriage pulled up to the Carnegie mansion. Chadwick disappeared inside and emerged 30 minutes later, carrying a brown envelope. She confided that Carnegie was paying her large sums of money to keep quiet about her parentage, and asked her husband’s friend to please keep her story quiet. In reality, Chadwick had gone into the house pretending to be checking the references of a maid who said she once worked for the Carnegies. The brown envelope she pulled out afterward contained promissory notes she had forged well in advance.

It didn’t take long for Dr. Chadwick’s friend to blab, which was exactly what "Cassie" had been counting on. Her supposed lineage was soon well-known all over town, and she was able to easily get loans for hundreds of thousands of dollars. An acquaintance of Carnegie’s from Pittsburgh handed over $800,000 without batting an eyelash.

Chadwick’s spree finally came to an end in 1904, when one businessman had the gall to ask for repayment on the $200,000 he had loaned her. Her lies and schemes quickly fell apart, and in 1905, she was handed a 10-year prison sentence for attempting to defraud a national bank.

Andrew Carnegie himself attended Chadwick’s trial and inspected the fraudulent promissory notes up close. “If anybody had seen this paper and then really believed that I had drawn it up and signed it, I could hardly have been flattered,” he said, pointing out spelling errors. “Why, I have not signed a note in the last 30 years.”

Chadwick died in prison in 1907.

Jack Taylor, Getty Images
8 Arresting Facts About Scotland Yard
Jack Taylor, Getty Images
Jack Taylor, Getty Images

Depicted in fiction for well over a century as the world's premier police force, Scotland Yard might be the most famous banner for law enforcement in history. Though the name itself is officially a term for the location of the London Metropolitan Police headquarters, it’s taken on a colloquial use to describe the collective brain trust of that station’s patrolmen and detectives. Here’s what we’ve deduced about the past, present, and future of this historic—and sometimes controversial—institution.


London didn’t have a formal police force until 1829, when Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel arranged for a squad to replace the fractured system of watchmen, street patrols, and the River Police. Colonel Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne were tasked with organizing the force: Mayne’s house at 4 Whitehall Place opened to an adjacent courtyard that had once been a medieval palace that hosted Scottish royalty while they were in London. This “Great Scotland Yard,” which was also reportedly the name of the street behind the building, became synonymous with Rowan and Mayne’s efforts to create a new era in law enforcement.


Author Charles Dickens poses for a photo
London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images

The renowned author of Great Expectations and other literary classics wasn’t a policeman, but he did perform the 19th-century equivalent of a ride-along. Dickens was friends with Charles Frederick Field, a Scotland Yard inspector, and their relationship led to Dickens occasionally accompanying patrolmen on their nightly rounds. He even based a character in his novel Bleak House on Fields.


For all of the public acceptance of Scotland Yard—Londoners were initially wary of the plainclothes cops walking among them—the squad suffered a sensational blow to its image in 1877. Known as the “Turf Fraud Scandal” or the “Trial of the Detectives,” the controversy erupted after a Parisian socialite named Madame de Goncourt was conned by two men named Harry Benson and William Kurr. Scotland Yard inspector Nathaniel Druscovich was dispatched to Amsterdam to capture a fleeing Benson while others pursued Kurr. The men proved surprisingly elusive, which prompted suspicion among Scotland Yard officials. When the two con men were finally arrested, they explained that an inspector named John Meiklejohn was taking bribes in exchange for tipping off Kurr to police activity. Two other policemen were implicated; the three each received two years in prison. The high-profile breach led to a reorganization, with the Yard inserting detectives into a new Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to help minimize misconduct.


A Scotland Yard employee examines fingerprints
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

At one time, the science of fingerprinting was more of a theory than anything that could be put into practice. Most police forces instead relied on anthropometry, a system created by French police officer Alphonse Bertillon, which used 11 body measurements taken by calipers to provide a unique physical identity for an individual. While fingerprinting was beginning to take off in India in the late 1800s, the English-speaking world didn’t adopt the forensic technique of lifting and matching prints until 1901, when Sir Edward Henry, then the assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard, instituted the Metropolitan Police Fingerprint Bureau. In 1902, a billiard ball thief was convicted based on a fingerprint he left on a windowsill. In 1904, a Yard detective demonstrated the efficacy of fingerprinting at the St. Louis World’s Fair, helping spread the new science to American law enforcement officials.


The uniformed police officers who wander London’s streets with an eye on keeping the peace were unarmed for most of the 20th century. It wasn’t until 1994 that select patrol officers were permitted to carry guns, a policy shift that stemmed from increased assaults on police. The addition of firearms was limited to armed response cars intended to be dispatched to high-risk calls; previously, officers were instructed to keep their weapons in a lockbox inside their vehicles. Today, 90 percent of Metropolitan police officers go on duty without a gun, a policy largely maintained in response to a relatively low number of guns carried by civilians. Less than four in 100 British citizens own a firearm.


A surveillance camera is posted in London
Leon Neal, AFP/Getty Images

With surveillance cameras dotting London, facial recognition for identifying criminal suspects is in high demand. But no software can outperform Scotland Yard’s team of “super recognizers,” who are recruited for their ability to match a face to a name based on their own memory. These officers are hired by administering a facial recognition test first implemented by Harvard in 2009. Those in the top percentile have an uncanny ability to retain facial feature details and are often dispatched to cull out known criminals like pickpockets at public gatherings. One such specialist, Constable Gary Collins, identified 180 people out of 4000 while examining footage of the 2011 London riots. Software was able to identify exactly one.


Housed across two floors at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police in London is the Black Museum, a macabre cavalcade of evidence from nearly 150 years of investigative work. Established in 1875, the collection houses body parts (gallstones that failed to dissolve in acid along with the rest of a murder victim) and seemingly innocuous items that take on sinister connotations: A set of pots and pans that once belonged to Scottish serial killer Dennis Nilsen and were used to boil human flesh. It’s closed to the public, though visiting law enforcement and sometimes celebrities can secure an invite: Laurel and Hardy and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have toured its inventory. A sample of the collection went on display at the Museum of London in 2015.  


The former New Scotland Yard building at 10 Broadway
Jack Taylor, AFP/Getty Images

The Metropolitan Police have changed locations several times over the years. It was situated at its original location of 4 Whitehall Place from 1829 to 1890, then housed in a large Victorian building on the Victoria Embankment from 1890 until 1967. That’s when the operation was moved to a 600,000 square-foot building at 10 Broadway in Westminster: a famous revolving sign announced a New Scotland Yard was taking up residence. In 2014, the building was sold to investors from Abu Dhabi for $580 million: London cited operating expenses and budget cuts as the reasons for the sale. The buyers plan to mount a residential housing project in the spot. Scotland Yard staff moved to a trimmed-down facility at the Curtis Green Building in Westminster and within walking distance of the Houses of Parliament.   

Why an Ex-FBI Agent Recommends Wrapping Your Keys in Tinfoil Whenever You Leave Your Car

A car thief doesn't need to get their hands on your keys to break into your vehicle. If you use a wireless, keyless system, or fob, to unlock your car, all they need to do is steal the signal it emits. Luckily there's a tool you can use to protect your fob from hackers that you may already have in your kitchen at home: tinfoil.

Speaking with USA Today, retired FBI agent Holly Hubert said that wrapping car fobs in a layer of foil is the cheapest way to block their sensitive information from anyone who may be trying to access it. Hackers can easily infiltrate your car by using a device to amplify the fob signal or by copying the code it uses. And they don't even need to be in the same room as you to do it: They can hack the fob inside your pocket from the street outside your house or office.

Electronic car theft is a growing problem for automobile manufacturers. Ideally fobs made in the future will come with cyber protection built-in, but until then the best way to keep your car safe is to carry your fob in an electromagnetic field-blocking shield when you go out. Bags made specifically to protect your key fob work better than foil, but they can cost more than $50. If tinfoil is all you can afford, it's better than nothing.

At home, make sure to store your keys in a spot where they will continue to get protection. Dropping them in a metal coffee can is a lot smarter than leaving them out in the open on your kitchen counter.

[h/t USA Today]


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