I’ve been a long-time Sherlock Holmes fan. In addition to the original works of Arthur Conan Doyle, many other authors have written additional stories ever since the character of Sherlock Holmes passed into the public domain. Often these new stories expand on the details of a small case mentioned in passing in Doyle’s original novels. For me, I love the idea of Sherlock Homes more than any author’s work on it.
Pretending, you are a consulting detective for Sherlock Holmes and he is forwarding some of his cases to you by post. Each month, he receives a series of paper letters that are addressed to Sherlock Holmes asking for help with an emerging case. You are tasked with helping Sherlock Holmes solve puzzling cases.
To play along, we recommend that you respond by turning to Holmes to tell him your theories. Then, at the end of the month after several letters from clients, Holmes writes you a final letter solving the case.
The mysteries of “Dear Holmes” are written by a carefully selected group of modern Sherlock Holmes writers. The “Letter Joy” team then reads the responses they receive and selects a subscriber to be the Spotlight Detective for that month, honored for their solution to the case.
The first case the “Dear Holmes” team sent me that they later revealed was called “The Benign Banker.” Much to my amusement, it was a financial fraud case that I was able to solve using my 8 rules to safeguard your money.
While this was my area of expertise, it still intrigued me how much of the time it took to solve the mystery was spent simply thinking about the case.
Watson describes the time required for Sherlock Holmes’s deductive method in Doyle’s “Hound of the Baskervilles”, saying: “I knew that seclusion and solitude were very necessary for my friend in those hours of intense mental concentration during which he weighed heavily. each particle of evidence, constructed alternative theories, weighed one against the other, and made a decision as to which points were essential and which were immaterial. “
In the original story, Watson points out that it takes Holmes time, but in the next paragraph we can move on and see the fruits of those hours spent thinking. In real life, you have to spend time building theories, weighing them against each other, and deciding which one is the most likely. It’s a different experience than just reading history, and enjoyable when safely experienced in the world of simulation.
My first “Dear Holmes” letter was from William Fallon, president of a bank in Lavenham, England, who was concerned about a series of sizable withdrawals that he did not see being spent in the city. The letter also spoke of a new resident, Mr. Robert Beddoes, who has contributed to the local charity and has become popular with the men and women of the city. (Even writing this summary involves examining “which points were essential and which were immaterial.”)
After the first letter, I wrote to Holmes summarizing my suspicions and telling the client not to trust anything about Mr. Beddoes. I printed my letter on business letterhead and wrote like an expert witness.
An excerpt from my letter was:
“Mr. Fallon is concerned about a series of substantial cash withdrawals from his bank. This, along with what he has already determined, suggests that they are potentially part of a fraudulent business venture with Mr. Beddoes. I say fraudulent because everything The thing regarding Mr. Beddoes, as well as the limited information that we have about the company, shows all the signs of a fraudulent company. He would try to obtain from one of his clients the confidence to tell him the nature of the commercial company that Mr. Beddoes. I’m pretty sure he’s up to no good. “
Often times, people’s greed or fear of missing something takes over your judgment. I thought it was important to establish that I did not trust Mr. Beddoes as strongly as possible in the first letter.
Although I knew that Mr. Beddoes was probably a scammer, I did some research and learned that trusting people because they appear rich is a long-standing scam technique. I found a member of parliament, John sadleir, who inspired Charles Dickens’s Mr. Merdle in “Little Dorrit” as an earlier example of the day. So I relied on describing Mr. Beddoes as having all the makings of a scammer, writing:
“In many ways, his character shows him as a flimflam man. He’s buying rounds at the inn. He’s flirting with single women. It is ostentatious with the wealth that it probably does not have. Mr. Beddoes’ clothing and supplies are irrelevant to his wealth. Like John Sadlier and the Tipperary Joint Stock Bank affair, a confident man might even be a deputy. Most scammers pretend to have lifestyles that only the rich can afford. Such is part of the act that they play. In short, you are playing your role in an affinity scam up to contributing to the local Presbyterian Church.
“In short, Robert Beddoes is a ‘serious debtor’, the ‘strangest thief’ or some other anagram of what is probably a fictitious name.”
He was not sure whether to include the anagram of his name. But I found out later that in over 100 entries, only one more introduction to “Dear Holmes” made it.
In my evaluation, I relied heavily on our “Safeguarding your money“I’m amazed at how often simply following the advice in this series would have saved investors from the latest version of Ponzi. You don’t need to know the details of a scam to know that an investment is a scam. my brother who is a lawyer says, “You can’t make a good deal with a bad person.”
In that first letter, I wrote:
“Sir. Fallon’s clients have no longer been able to safeguard their money in accordance with at least four of my eight principles published in our local newspaper eleven years ago. They have allowed their advisor custody of their investments. They did not shy away from ‘ too good to be true. ‘They have not insisted on publicly traded and listed investments. And they have relied on an advisor with a luxurious lifestyle. Still, they are taking an insensitive risk with their money. And it will not turn out well. “
The first letter you sent me only described the commendable qualities of Mr. Beddoes. Even after the last letter, he was clearly not the villain. But saying as clearly as possible in the first letter that he was lying would have been important to minimize the damage done to the community.
I ended my first letter with:
“Mr. Beddoes claims to be a scientist of some kind. I can imagine her piercing blue eyes rocking her gold stone watch chain and mesmerizing the locals with her stories about finding great riches. But if there really was great wealth and Beddoes was a rich man, then why would he need or want investors?
“The sooner someone gets to the bottom of this matter, the less damage they must necessarily cause.”
I was praised for being decisive and quick to resolve and point out Beddoes’ precise motives.
In my last letter, I had solved the case, knowing decisively that Beddoes was salting a mine with gold dust. In that letter, I also found an earlier example of such a fraud in order to add the flavor of the supposedly current events in the Lewis Hansen scam of the Corona Mining and Milling Company Southern California in the late 1800s.
In my last letter I said:
“I am writing directly to urge you not to invest in the alleged gold mine. I maintain my original analysis that Mr. Beddoes is a flimflam charlatan. Fraud in gold mining is among the oldest in history. As I said in my first letter, “If there really was great wealth and Beddoes was a rich man, why would he need or want investors?”
“Greed is a terrible motivator. But Beddoes had all the makings of a bad investment. The details, which are lies, are irrelevant.
“In this case, however, the details are now known.
“Sir. Beddoes has been salting the mine with a shotgun to shoot gold dust at the mine walls. The ‘gunpowder smell’ was probably the smell of the shotgun. There is no gold in Lavenham.
“Something similar happened here in the United States a few years ago in Southern California when Lewis Hansen of Corona Mining and Milling Company used similar tricks to vastly overestimate the gold content and then sell his shares. The mining rights were considered worthless ”.
In the end, I got the Outstanding Detective award in the blog post “There’s a new detective (featured) in town …“Which said in part:
“Detective David M. was not only suspicious of Beddoes and his associates, but also highlighted the relevance of Beddoes’ gold chain, his attempts to appease the locals, and even his donations to Lavenham Presbyterian Church. Detective David also provided a concise follow-up to his original entry, noting the “smell of gunpowder” and stating definitively that Beddoes removed the mine.
“Congratulations from the Dear Holmes team to Detective David; such a combination of precise detail and urgent speed would have been instrumental in the search for Beddoes.”
I am honored to have won Featured Detective in my first case. My award was the “Dear Holmes” desk plaque with “Detective of the Highest Caliber” as pictured. I consider you especially fortunate that my first case received involved investment fraud, and as a result, I am happy to have been able to present this fun service and interesting case here.