Patent Medicine Fraud.
A CLEVER SWINDLE.
James Cook and Leslie Abbott were arrested at. Adelaide on Thursday last on. charges of frauds alleged to have been committed in Melbourne last month. They are due in Melbourne in custody of a Melbourne detective, who was sent to bring them back.
Two young men who cut quite a figure in Melbourne commercial circles for some.time are alleged to have lifted about £500 from various firms by ineansof a cleverly worked fraud in the patent medicine line. One a smart, well-spoken, fashionably dressed young man of English type, arrived in Mel- bourne--or at least .appeared in Mel- bourne — in June, and put up at Men- zies' Hotel under the name of 'A. L. Francis.' He lived at a high rate, en- tertained in good style and ordered wine generously. It soon became known in the hotel that Mr. Fran- cis represented Hearon, Squire and Francis, wholesale chemists and drug- gists, of London, but no one seemed to know that the noted firm had lost its identity recently in an amalgamated chemical company, and therefore did not exist. Mr. Fran- cis, however, seemed to have no trouble in doing big business. Bee- cham's pills was the particular line to which he specially devoted himself — one of' the securest medicine stocks on the market, for Beecham's pills can be literally, 'cashed', at 11/9 per doz., less the ordinary discount. It is al- leged that 'Mr. Francis' represented that the firm held great stocks of this medicine, which throngh a fortuitous circumstance had been obtained at less than cost, and that he simply revelled in business at 11/ per dozen less 5 per cent. discount. He sold pills, it is as- serted, all over the suburbs, but al- ways to grocers. Chemists were strictly on his black list, not for any particular enmity he had to chemists,
but probably because what chemists knew of the firm of Hearon, Squire and Francis, which had ceased to exist. Anyway, the grocers just jumped at the 'Beecham's Pills' proffered by 'Mr: Francis.' They looked like Beecham's pills; they tasted like Beecham's pills; they had the color of Beecham's Pills; they were labelled and boxed like Bee- cham's pills: therefore they were Bee- cham's pills, and the grocers' bought them. One grocer in Collingwood bought over £200 worth, another £130 worth, and many more invested heavily in them. Finally, one of the buyers on consultation with the representa- tive of a big Melbourne drug firm had his suspicions aroused, and inquiries set afoot established a clever fraud. In possession of Cook, when arrested in Adelaide, were 100 gross of labels purporting to be those of "Beecham's pills,"and about 700 pill boxes marked 'Beecham's:' By the .time the fraud was. discovered 'Mr. Francis' had left the State, but he was traced, west- wards and shadowed. It is supposed that the fraudulent pills, labels and boxes were made in Sydney, where some years ago a simi- lar clever fraud, was perpetrated by spielers, who ran a fraudulent line of bile beans.