The early Police Forces and even earlier private investigators like Vidocq compiled index’s of personal details relating to criminals, their photographs and their personal details (Usually their: “Modus operandi”).
Vidocq is credited with the first (Crude) database or index of criminals. He also took the first shoe impression using a cast made by pouring plaster into the indentation found on the ground.
Vidocq wrote all his own memoires and we have to be careful about his, possible, self aggrandizement – there is plenty in his scratchings! But apart from describing how brave, strong and clever he was, he also wrote about the, “Letter from Jerusalem”, scam…..In his day, he wrote about people being duped by con artists who would send letters out claiming that: “My noble friend is held captive – he will share his treasures with you if you pay for his release…..when he is free we will dig up the treasure and repay you”.
The West African 419 scam of today, reads much the same way as the afore mentioned letter – only now, the preferred delivery medium is e-mail:
“The late dictator, has died and now his widow wants your help in getting his $80 Million out of the Country”, or: “Hello, My client would like to invest in your country, if you can assist us with the investment proposal kindly get back to me for more detailed information on how to proceed with the project. If interested please reply through this email. Thank you and waiting”.
A timeless proverb that is worth mentioning is that: “a foole and his money is soone parted”.