Center for Labor Education & Research, University of Hawaii - West Oahu: Honolulu Record Digitization Project

Honolulu Record, Volume 10 No. 9, Thursday, September 26, 1957 p. 2


Ladies' Dumbbells, Suction Cups, Brushes for Baldies In Mail Frauds

Do people get smarter down through the generations?

No one can dispute the advance of science, of course, and the broadening and expansion of human knowledge But the police of the U.S. Post Office Department certainly have reason to think people actually get more gullible.

With the advance of science, the possibilities for fleecing: have increased enormously, and the fast-buck artists are taking advantage of them. A report from David Stephens, head of' the postal inspection service, says mail racketeers are taking "untold millions" of dollars away from the public."

Some of the simplest devices imaginable are the gimmicks for the mail order "con" jobs. For instance, a lady may wish to increase the girth of her bust to somewhere around the burlesque, so she answers an advertisement that tells of a "sure fire" method. What does she get back in the mail? Like as not, it's an ordinary pair of two-pound dumbbells, "painted a dainty blue and adorned with pink ribbons."

Or she may get worthless suction cups, creams, lotions or tablets.

Brushes for Baldies

A baldheaded man who wishes to recover the appearance of his youth by covering the skin of his head may get "electric" brushes that are actually infected with bacteria and likely to infect his head if he uses them.

Some of the gimmicks used to fool the unhappy overweight people are the essence of simplicity One is a rubber bowl equipped with an ordinary electric light bulb All the victim is told to do is let the light shine on his body and the too, too solid flesh will melt away.

Another "easy way" to reduce while eating as much as ever, according to another crook, is merely to chew the medicated chewing gum he sends.

America's great fear of cancer is exploited by the mail-robbers by more simple devices. "Atomic" and the postal inspectors, and they sell "electronic" gadgets abound say for hundreds of dollars. Some are merely light bulbs with buzzers that make a sort of X-ray sound while the lights are turned on. The same sort of “cures” is sold to sufferers from arthritis, rheumatism and similar ills.

Copper is a big thing with the mail-swindlers The postal inspectors caught one swindler who put out an "electro-therapeutic" bracelet of copper which is supposed to cure arthritis and bursitis if an "alternating current" is dispatched through it and around the body sometimes the victim gets nothing- more than copper and zinc discs he is supposed to wear in his shoes.

Too Miraculous

"Miracle drugs" more miraculous than anything your doctor can prescribe are also available through such channels. Only they turn out to be nothing but harmless bromides that won't either hurt or help you if you use them.

"Despite our efforts," says Stephens' report, "the public appears to be in a speculative mood today and receptive to swindles."

Last year postal inspection looked into 160,000 cases of alleged mail fraud. Already this year, in the first quarter, they arrested 235 suspects as compared with 209 for the same period last year. Last year 213 cases went to trial on charges of criminal fraud and 197 resulted in convictions.

The postal inspection service operates with a staff of 860 and maintains a laboratory with specialists in fingerprints, documents, chemicals and also has some of its medical work done on a contract basis by doctors and chemists with private firms.

p /> I do not say that at odd hours a patient must be given the regular hot dinner or supper. Few people would expect this.
But what is so complicated about opening and heating a can of soup, making some toast, or preparing instant coffee or tea? Why cannot a night nurse do these simple things after the kitchen to closed? Is it just too much trouble?

It is only common humanity to feed the hungry. If our hospitals are too big, too complex, too impersonal to do these small kindnesses for the sick, something is very wrong.