Galesburg Register-Mail from Galesburg, Illinois on April 17, 1973 · Page 8
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Galesburg Register-Mail from Galesburg, Illinois · Page 8

Galesburg, Illinois
Issue Date:
Tuesday, April 17, 1973
Page 8
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Galesbufi ister-Mdil, Galesburg, III. m Tuesday. April 17. 1973 4 ' - t •I Terribles' Are First Family of Fraud aNCINNATI (NEA)-Every year about this time, when the tulips are fat and the forsythia has yellowed, the Cincinnati Police Department observes yet another ancient rite of spring. It issues its annual warning to property owners to beware of the Wil­ liamsonsthe terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible WiUiamsohs. THE TERRIBLES are the city's first family of fraud. Part fact and part fiction, alternately feared and envied, notorious yet wholly unknown, the group is a sort of miniature Mafia, a kind of brotherhood of the bilk, which has allegedly amassed a fortune, not to mention a place in legend, by swindling the na^on*s many and varied suckers. Known from Hartford to Honolulu, with perhaps a 50- year history of big time bamboozling, the Terrible Williamsons operate on the P. T. Barnum principle. What they do is promise something for nothing, which turns out to be nothing for something. They $ell eggs to cure cancer, ped- .Jile ''sealskin" coats which are made of plastic, resurface driveways with crankcase oil. Obviously, the Terrible prey "On the barely intelligent, but according to best estimates they earn more than $1 million a year from U. S. yokels. , AND THIS IS their home, Cincinnati. Even crooks apparently have to have a place to root and rejuvenate. And so for as long as this town remembers the Terrible Williamsons (a clan of several families with various humes) have g at h e r e d here each spring for a combination reunion and strategy session. Ergo, the annual police warning. "We don't know how many of them come here," says a cop in the criminal investigation bureau, '*but the guess is there is at least 2,000 of them operating in the country. If we even get half that Hop to it! Send the FTD Brighten Easter for someone tpecial by sending the FTD® HappyNest Call or visit us today, and we'll Arrange for your HappyNest to be on its way. on s Flower Shop 56 FULTON 343-3174 many it's cause for concern. These /$/;/!-/ people could sell palm trees in Alaska." Actually, the concern here in recent years has been based more on the Terrible's reputation than on actual activity. According to authol-i- ties» the Williamsons no longer fleece Cincinnati as they regularly fleece other towns. '*This is their home," explains George Young of the Better Business Bureau, "maybe they have a little sentiment for it." BESIDES, YOUNG adds, repeated police and BBB warnings here have educated the population to the point where most people are not only wary of con games, they are exaggeratedly so. Young tells of one legitimate businessman in town named Williamson who has pleaded with the BBB for credentials so that he wouldn't have to suffer guilt by association and the wrath of the community. Indeed, agitation over the Williamsons sometimes reaches the point of absurdity in Cincinnati. Last year an area motel owner phoned the BBB with the news that he had some guests who "looked like Williamsons," whatever that meant, and wondered with obvious enthusiasm, "If there are any warrants out for them?" The BBB's Young feels this kind of suspicion is a bit much. In fact, Young personally has grown more than weary concerning the whole subject of the Terrible Williamsons. "Every time I hear about that clan," he sighs, "I want to vomit." Not because they are as terrible as all that— but because they may have grown bigger than life, undeserved. YOUNG SAYS THERE are many thousands of bunko artists around the nation, of which the Williamsons, remember, are only a portion. He doesn't minimize their threat, but wonders it they really are so terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, any more. They may not be. At least not like the old days. Time was when "to Williamson" was synonymous with "to defraud." When the clan would drive into a town, set up a fly-by-night shop, and blitz an entire area with such gimmicks as "guaranteed" lightning rods which, in at least one case, was nothing more than a water pipe ripped out of the customer's own basement and nailed to his roof. Ah, those were the days. "I remember one case," says a national BBB spokesman, "where this woman let the Williamsons fix her roof. It didn't leak, but they talked her into the repairs anyway. After they were through, and she'd given them $750, the damn roof almost caved in at the first rain. Not only did the roof leak, but the water ran down inside the house and ruined her walls. Oh, God. was the lady mad." THE LADY WAS also dumb, of course; she could easily have checked on the repairman's authenticity prior to- the disaster. But, alas, there's one born every minute—and this is the cornerstone of the terrible, terrible Williamsons' success. And that success, make no sons were really terrible, mistake, continues to a degree today. The Williamsons may no longer rip off Cincinnati as once, they may in fact be—as the National Council of the BBB believes-"just a part of the whole fraud picture in America," but they are still the masters. F 0 u n d e d as professional shysters by an immigrant Scot at the turn of this century, the Terribles have pros- .pered by illegal excellence. Inbred, secretive and fuly professional, they have defied all but minor busts despite ANDERSON FLORISTS CAN SEND THE Happy-Nest NATION-WIDE! (All-342*8121 VISIT 128 N. BROAD Please Order Early! when they came into town in long Cadillac caravans, when they buried all their dead in elaborate ceremony at the Spring Grove Cemetery, when they peeled off rolls of cash- money for goods and supplies. Still, the legend remains. And one cop has already received a call from a neighbor reporting the "strange" actions of two "very suspicious" workers who turned out to be telephone repairmen drinking Cokes. Of course, most Cincinnati- ans are too smart ^o be foiled operating in an almost thumb- by the clan. Hah, of course. at-nose sameness. They have grown rich on the gullibility of human kind. Worse, they have spawned countless imitators who carry the heritage to hundreds of thousands of doorsteps in America every year. SO IT IS this spring, as the Terribles reportedly gather again in Cincinnati, to plot out the gold trails ahead, the locals are both apprehensive and amused. It's not such a big thing here as' it was in the days when the William- Only bumpkins could fall for such hoary gyps. But, well, even the vigilant can falter. THE STORY, unverified, is that one suburban woman was visited last year by strange men who wanted to waterproof her basement. Very keenly she asked them right out if they were Williamsons. They said no. Oh, she replied, then go ahead. Unfortunately, it turned out the men were terrible Williamsons after all. The crooks told her an outright lie! By ttdSElTE HARGftOVE PARIS (NEA )-Portime tellers have existed in every civilization in recorded history, aiid certainly even be- lofe. No wonder, then, that today 10 rrilllioin Frenchmen, from the highest to the lowest strata of. society, continue to consult 3,400 soothsayers-500 for Paris alone—paying $5 to $2Sr and sometimes more, for peeks at future and fate in palms, cards and the star^. It is estimated that all of 2,500 anxious French souls consult some species of adviser daily. THE MOST celebrated in Paris is Madame Sofeil (Mad• am Sun), an astrologist. There is nothing mysterious about her. A very plump 60; in the space of 18 months on the radio, she's become the most questioned person in France. When she first came on to Europe No. 1, a state-owned network, close to 25,000 listeners telephoned in, anxious for help with their problems. Earthy, completely uninhibited, Madame Soleil rtpli^s with incredible serenity to questions. *a love nothing better than to help people who come to me with their, problems," she says. These problems can be classified under five general headings: Love, Health, Money, Children and Death. WHAT ABOUT horoscopes in newspapers and magazines? Any horoscope under your sign obviously is not drawn up specifically for you," she says. "But they are ^» + - * . ,^ .', . M m M m m i • •> m m r * L V • • • + ^ H V ^ • ' • r - F ^ * b ^ - k * n ^ t m m - riF" ' ^ ^' m -m'^ - 'lV\ P"' m^m L ^y^b m ^ m w r T • ' • 1 J f ^ ' ' m m m ^ w * ' ^ - - - . , - ^ m WW' + - PL A * m - ^ - -r y> w w C * - ' * P - - w ' - « . - - m w m * * * -V # - "^'^ - - H ^ n + ^ - */ 4- •.^ H ,pL_ w ,i '.'mW'-'-' - ' ' v.v,v-:.' I b F V • • • « • • 4 • m 4 w m, m b b V • \ - > 4 b • • t b • r V f ^ ^4 • ^ m W m K ' v.- •.•.V' d »b"** xJ 4 Astrologer and Assistant The computer is Madame SoleiFs vital as- sistiant, juggling millions of astrological combinations millions of ways. NEA by no means a hit-or-miss effort. Astrologists, the serious ones, daily consult the planets and their position vis-a­ vis the various signs of the zodiac. Their findings are rheant to be looked upon as a general guidance for the day, week or month." Madame Soleil's following ranges from cabinet ministers, film, theater and opera stars to doctors, business tycoons and the man in the street. 4 After two years she recently gave up her radio program and now confines herself to dealing with the thousands of letters which still come pouring into her office. BECAUSE ASTROIXMiY depends upon exact calculations, Madame Soleil has become frank speech of a loving grandmother," she says. With her, the computer plays the part of an assistant astrologer, capable of juggling millions of combinations. Madame Soleil — it is her real name, she was born Germaine Soleil-now is interest- modern machine can estab- tute of Astrological Research lish a chart in the matter of and Orientation, grouping a a few minutes. team of mathematicians and "I have also had outlaws "I let the machines do the computer experts. She wants L _ and religious leaders, not to mention that many farmers consult me, the latter know I am very 'down to earth.'" groundwork—the equations and can devote more time to analyzing each problem, replying to queries with the to exploit to the utmost the ancient traditions of astrolo- (Continued on Page 14) I' to Grown-ups go for Easter baskets, too. And you wouldn't want someone special to miss the xcitement and surprise of an FTD HappyNest. Sparking spring flowers host a happy crew of holiday bunnies and colorful Easter eggs in a handsome woven basket. * • You can send a HappyNest almost anywhere by calling or visiting your nearby FTD Florist. (Most FTD Florists accept major credit cards.) Order now and start feeling good about Easter right away. I • Usually available for less than \ Ask about FTD Extra Touch Service'"—Flowers with Silver, Fine China, Pottery or Crystal... for that Extra Touch. 'As an independent businessman, eacli FTD Member Florist sets his own prices. © 1973 Florists' Transworld Delivery Association.

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