Monday, November 26, 2012

November 26: The Great Diamond Hoax

On this date in history .... 1872:

The San Francisco Evening Bulletin exposes the “Great Diamond Hoax”.
It was known as one of the most notorious mine swindling scandals of the time. 
Salting mines was a common swindle back then but Kentucky cousins Phil Arnold and Tom Slack took it one step further.  They walked into a bank and tried to deposit some uncut diamonds.  When asked about where they got them, the two men put on a shy act about talking about it and left. A bank director located them and, assuming he was dealing with some country bumpkins, he set in motion his plan to swindle the swindlers.  He got investors lined up and paid the two men $600,000. 
A geologist  and mining engineer, Clarence King, got suspicious and after checking out the mine, blew the whistle.  He even found jewelers marks on some of the salted diamonds! King’s role earned him fame and the first directorship of the U.S. Geological Survey.

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