AMONG all the frauds of London none are more frequent, or mere extensive, than those practised by dishonest bankrupts on their unsuspicious creditors.
John Folkard carried on business, as a silversmith and jeweller, in the Surrey Road, between four and five years, and was in good credit; a character he might have retained, had he not entered into a scheme for enriching himself by speedier means than the profits of his business afforded. He became acquainted with a money-lender, named Thomas Nugent, and, in conjunction with him, and his own brother, William Folkard, he resolved to become a bankrupt; but, that he might do so advantageously, they fabricated bills, purporting to be drawn on them by different men, whom they got to swear to their fictitious debts for a few shillings. Debts, too, were entered on the books, pretended to be due by men either no longer in existence, or no longer in the country; and, when all things were prepared, John Folkard's name appeared in the Gazette, to the great astonishment of his creditors. His object was to take them by surprise, and to have one of his friends appointed assignee before they were aware of his design.
From some circumstances of a suspicious nature, the bona fide creditors saw it was necessary to unite, and get some of themselves chosen assignee, instead of those proposed by the bankrupt. After a severe struggle they were successful, and Messrs. Powis, Hemming, and Taylor, were chosen. On inspecting the list of debts, several appeared fictitious. One man, who was described as a bullion-dealer on Ludgate Hill, whose debt appeared to be one hundred and thirty-eight pounds, was nowhere to be found, and many others, with demands equally as large, were only just emerged from prison, through the mercy of the Insolvent Act, and, so far from being able to lend money, were objects of charity.
The assignees waiting on these people, and insisting on having the particulars of their accounts, under the threat of prosecution, so alarmed a woman, who called herself Baroness Minkwitz, that she disclosed the premeditated fraud.
In consequence of her testimony Thomas Nugent and the two brothers were taken into custody. On Friday, September the 20th, 1812, their trial came on at the Old Bailey, when the whole transaction was satisfactorily proved by parties concerned, and numerous corroborating facts. After an investigation of ten hours they were found Guilty, and the Common Sergeant sentenced John Folkard to he imprisoned two years, and stand twice in the pillory; Thomas Nugent to be imprisoned eighteen months, and stand once in the pillory; and William Folkard to be imprisoned one year, and to stand once in the pillory.