I have a bridge for sale, if you happen to know a fish. In exchange for a small taste (bribe), boatmen working the ferries between the immigration station on Ellis Island and Manhattan would alert ropers (outside men) when they spotted a rube with a crowded oakus (a new immigrant with a full wallet). After befriending the Bates (victim), the rope would allow himself to be convinced to share his inside info on some of the fabulous business opportunities available for any America with a little ready cash. And, as evening settled in, the rope might even be induced to introduce the fish to Mr. George Parker, the fabulously wealthy but temporally distressed owner of the Brooklyn Bridge.
George C. Parker (the inside man) confessed that during the early 1880’s he sold the Brooklyn Bridge twice a week. He had documents showing he owned not only the bridge, but also Grant’s Tomb, the Statue of Liberty and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He sold them all, over and over again. According to historian Carl Sifakis, “Several times Parker's victims had to be rousted from the bridge…when they tried to erect toll barriers.” George’s fame stems not just from his invention of this classic American scam, but for his part in creating that other American institution, The Three Time Loser. After his third conviction on December 17, 1928, George received a life sentence in Sing Sing, where the old man was very popular.
McGregor secured his “in” with English social circles when in 1821 he named the very proper Major William John Richardson as his legate. Together they opened an embasy in London, and in Scotland they began offering Poyais farmland at bargin prices, as “…an asylum only for the industrious and honest.” Almost overnight they sold some 200,000 pounds worth of Poyais bonds.