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cents upwards on every piece of baggage, from 25 cents to $1 on telegrams, and from 2 to 25 per cent on exchange of foreign currency before leaving the docks.' Of this number 167,972 were second cabin passengers, and it is from this class that the great revenue on exchange from “third class” to first class prepaid railroad orders is derived. Adding to these overcharges on baggage, telegrams, money exchange, runners' fees, cab fares and hotel charges and we are confronted by an alarming total in this form of extortion and fraud.
A total of 447,329 steerage passengers arrived at this port during the same period; many of these were forwarded by railroad direct from Ellis Island via immigrant trains, but the greater proportion entered the city through the barge office, and there the jurisdiction of the Federal government over them ended. It is this class of immigrant travelers who fall a prey to unscrupulous runners for immigrant hotels, porters, hackmen, confidence men, real estate imposters, and others before mentioned, and it is these who, even when placed directly on trains at Ellis Island by immigration officials, are thereafter exploited by news agents, lunch agents, and others.
An alien on his second trip to this country informed the writer that, although he had purchased abroad a prepaid railroad ticket “third class” through to his destination in Oregon, and had boarded the immigrant train at Ellis Island, that after leaving Chicago, an agent came through the cars and demanded and collected an additional $10, and he was powerless to remonstrate. This information discloses another field for investigation too remote to be within the jurisdiction of this Bureau.
REAL ESTATE SCHEMES
Millions of American dollars accumulated by thrifty immigrants are sent out of this country every year for safe keeping in foreign banks, instead of being invested in farms, for the reason that large numbers of aliens are annually defrauded and deceived by unscrupulous land and real estate agents in the manner described in the following complaint, written in French and here literally translated.
To the Bureau of Industries and Immigration:
We, the undersigned, ask assistance in a case where the interest of a number of European immigrants is involved.
Attracted by flourishing newspaper articles that appeared in the French newspaper, 5, of which we herewith attached a copy, we were tricked into buying real estate, and are therefore compelled to ask for your assistance. You may also find this article in the
of June 28, 1914. We were told by the agent, who showed us illustrated circulars, that the colony was in paying prosperity, and therefore agreed to purchase the aeres at $275 each. Most of the people purchased 10 acres each. According to the plans, the place in which we bought this real estate was a city of streets, avenues, stores, etc. A city with all modern improvements. In order to encourage us to buy the land, we were promised that the company would guarantee us work at the rate of $2.50 to $5.00 per day for the men, and $1.50 to $2.00 per day for the women and children. On arriving here we found the truth.
There is not a single stone of the promised city, not even a street or a house. The ground is nothing else than a waste plain and near the river Columbia. On this ground we expected to find trees, but, however, there was no sight of any such thing. The nearest city is
about 30 miles from here. There is only one train per day, and no doctor. In case of acci. dent it would take three hours before medical help could arrive. In addition, the land is infested with poisonous serpents, of which we kill a number every day. As far as the plantation is concerned, there is none, and the nearest crop we may expect to have will be in June, 1915, and not before that. All the seeds we planted dried out. The heat in this country is 105 to 115° F.
All our complaints to the company were unanswered, and we have no documents to show that we are the owners of the real estate. We have no work, and for the few days we worked we were not paid. We have no resources, as we paid to the company all the money we had, and in addition we had to pay our railroad fare to here, which cost $150 per couple. We just learned that a second expedition of 20 families will be shipped on August 30, and we hope for the good of our countrymen that you will take steps to prevent their leaving New York,
The company in order to fool the prospective buyers that their mission was a philanthropic one, has a man wearing a ribbon of the order of “ Legion d'Honneur at the head of this scheme.
We would respectfully ask you to take up the matter with the company that we have placed in your hands a complaint against them which you will bring before the courts, in case they refuse to pay us our money before the first of August, 1914.
Kindly inform us what you have done in the matter to the following address:
County, Washington. The principal address of the company is:
Minnesota, U. S. A.
Very respectfully, (Signed):
Again under date of September 14, 1914, the following letter was received:
I regret to say that I was obliged to leave Berrian, where by the way, I was not paid. I have placed the matter in the hands of an attorney in
who till the present could not get anything. My personal claim amounts to $514.25. I have written to all my friends who signed the letter that you have received, and they can tell you all the details of the subject.
Yours very truly, (Signed):
Cali. I did not have any letters from you since September 13, in my case against the
company. All other (complainants ?) have left here for San Francisco. Nothing else new. I beg you to inform me as to the standing of my case. Could I obtain the refund of the deposit of $25? If I can get that sum, I would on aceount of the necessity waive all other claims. Kindly let me hear from you without delay.
Very truly yours, (Signed) :
This is only one of the pathetic stories of hundreds of honest and industrious foreigners who come to the United States with their life savings, intending this country to be their place of future residence; neither is this case cited as an isolated instance, as the testimony in the Bureau files abundantly illustrates.
Investigation of the above mentioned complaint developed that this company was known as the “ Land Company” of Minn., with a New York office at
Broadway, which, as our inspection proceeded, was finally abandoned. The agent in charge, who had posed as a French clergyman in order to further deceive his victims, absconded to Mexico. Communication with the main office in Minneapolis was productive of no result; but as this was out of our jurisdiction, the case, as far as this State was concerned, was necessarily closed. We assume credit however, for having dispersed the band of swindlers in this city.
The organization of a Federal bureau as a clearing house for interstate complaints of this description would appear advisable. It might very well be considered in connection with the establishment of the proposed Federal employment bureau and could indeed be made an integral part of it, as in practically all of these swindles a promise of work is advanced as part of the consideration. Similar schemes have been discovered, investigated, prosecuted, and closed out of business by the Bureau during the past year with objective points extending from Cuba to the Pacific coast.
HOTELS Railroad ticket and baggage agents refer alien passengers to certain immigrant hotels in order to obtain commissions; the passengers are then overcharged to meet these conditions, are misinformed as to the departure of trains and often delayed for one or two days in order to compensate the hotels for the outlay of these commissions. The following illustration will suffice to demonstrate the nature of these transactions.
A woman arrived recently second class, en route to Kansas. She had five children, the eldest ten years of age, the youngest a few months. She was released by the custom's officials on the dock at about 5 P. M. A fast train was leaving for her destination at 9 P. M. via the Erie Railroad; yet she was informed that there were no trains that night and a certain immigrant hotel was recommended to her. She was taken to this hotel by its runner, was overcharged for a cab, overcharged on each piece of baggage, charged $8.25 for one night's lodging, and finally placed her on a train at 2:35 the following day, thus adding seven hours to the length of her journey on a slow train encumbered with five children. When the complaint in the case reached this office, the transaction had already been consummated, but the statement of the indignant passenger after learning how she had been de ceived, was taken by an investigator, who boarded her train to obtain the evidence.
CONFIDENCE MEN The following report of the Bureau's supervising investigator of docks and ferries describes the methods of confidence men in preying upon emigrants:
While on an inspection tour to-day, one Conrad Brenn accosted me out. side the French Line pier, foot of West 16th street. He is one of four French and Italian confidence men and immigrant “sharks” who work in that vicinity. He informed me that he was one of the reservists whose passage had been paid by the French Consul and that he would sail on S. S. “La Touraine," leaving that afternoon for France. He inquired whether I was sailing on the same steamer, and I replied that I was, and that I had a steerage ticket. He asked me about my nationality, my previous occupation, where I came from, and further particulars about my financial status. I replied that I was a Swiss," from the town of Zurich, that I arrived from Chicago last night and that I had a few hundred dollars which I had with me. Probably forgetting that he had told me that he was a French reservist, he now said that he was a countryman of mine, from a nearby town in Switzerland, and as I was a stranger in New York, he invited me to accompany him on a sightseeing tour on Broadway.
We walked on 16th street, and I noticed that we were followed by his three partners. On 16th street and 10th avenue we entered a saloon where incidentally we met one of his partners, whose name I do not know, but whom I will classify in this report as “No. 2." He was introduced to me as “ another countryman and also a passenger on the same steamer.” Several rounds of whiskey were ordered, and to show their appreciation of meeting a countryman like me, they refused to let me pay any part of the bill. When we left the saloon, and on 16th street between 7th and 8th avenues, we were accosted by another of their accomplices Marius Frances," who informed us that he was a stranger in New York, and that he would like to know where the “ American Hotel” was located. “No. 2" replied that this hotel was on 15th street and 4th avenue, and as we were going in the same direction he was requested to join us and we would direct him to the place. On our way Marius Frances, shedding tears pitifully, informed us that he had just arrived from San Francisco, where his uncle died and left him $20,000, which money he had in his possession. He produced from his overcoat pocket a roll made up of 70 single dollars covered on the outside with a twenty dollar bill, and from the inside jacket pocket, a legal sized envelope, which he said contained $19,000. (This package, when examined later in the police station was made up of a bundle of newspapers with two bills covered on the outside.) He stated that he was going to sail on the French Line steamer “La Touraine,” the same steamer on which we had tickets. He further said that he was afraid that somebody might rob him, and begged us, as his country people, to protect him. He said that he was willing to give us $500 each and pay the difference between our steerage tickets, for first cabin passage, providing we promised to deal honestly and take care of him.
In order to show that they were honest and reliable persons Conrad Brenn and “No. 2 ” each took from their pockets a handful of bills and requested