From 1884–1891, the con man introduced himself to paleontologists, geologists, and chemists across the US. The crook often claimed he was the relative of a renowned scientist or said he represented respected institutions like the Smithsonian or Cornell. He frequently pretended to be deaf and mute and sometimes claimed he was Russian. He operated under names like E.D. Strong, N.R. Taggart, and Professor H.S. Williams. Sometimes, he mentioned serving in the military and fighting indians.
The man knew his science. He gained his victims’ trust by engaging them in lengthy discussions about fossils, and after they gave him access to public museums and private collections, he’d pilfer valuable books, rare specimens, and scientific instruments. Then he’d sell his goods and take off to a new town.
While word of the thief spread across the country, no one could stop him for long. The Unknown Scientist swindled great minds from New York to Iowa, and while he appeared to have some sort of deformity (some said his right arm was crippled; others said he was missing his left hand), no one could ever pin him down or learn his true identity. In fact, he once he swindled the same scientist twice, using two different personas.
Eventually, he was sentenced to five years in an Ohio penitentiary, but after he was paroled, the Unknown Scientist vanished into thin air.
I hate it when my foot falls asleep during the day.
It means that it will be up all night.
Live Long and Prosper...