Portland is known as a bike-friendly city and many Portlanders even enjoy commuting to work by bike. Like other parts of the U. S., bikes came to Portland during the late 1800’s and took off after 1900 with the opening of cycle shops such as Fred T. Merrill’s Cycle Company and Ballou & Wright. Opening in 1901, Ballou & Wright sold bikes, motorcycles, and cars. The business was so successful that they expanded their operations by building a large warehouse that still stands today in the Pearl District.
Early in their business, Ballou & Wright ran into a problem of a different sort that the Oregonian reported in 1902. J. R. Finney, Jr. from Vancouver, BC visited Portland in July 1902. After checking into a hotel on 1st street, Finney decided to visit Ballou & Wright’s store and was interested in purchasing a $50 bike. He asked the cashier if he would accept a check for $75 made out to his father J. R. Finney, Sr. Finney implored, “My name is on the Wells Fargo Bank check.” The cashier C. F. Wright hesitantly took the check with strong misgivings. Thinking fast, Wright told the customer to wait a few minutes while he fetched some fittings for the bike. Wright immediately called Wells Fargo to see if J. R. Finney Sr. had an account, and the banker confirmed that no one named Finney held an account at Wells Fargo’s Bank in Portland. While Wright was on the phone, Finney made off with the bike. Finney had passed on a forged check.
Wright closed up the shop and walked to the police station to report the stolen bike and give a description of the thief. The jailer overhead the conversation and after leaving the station to inspect patrol horses, he spotted a young man who matched Finney’s description walking along Second Street with a bike in hand. The jailer escorted Finney to the police station for questioning. Upon searching Finney, the officer discovered a loaded revolver, gold badge, and letters bearing the name “Harry Jones.” When the officer asked the suspect his name, Finney slipped up and blurted out “Harry Jones”. When the officer asked why he used a different name to buy the bike, Jones confessed to the crime. Wright’s alertness to forgery caused him to act in a timely manner and protect his business.
Today, financial fraud and theft have become an increasing threat to individual customers and small businesses. In addition to relying on the bank’s internal security measures and procedures, you can implement these valuable tips to keep your money safe. Take our short quiz and find out if you’re taking the right steps.