Press Cuttings
Four Newspaper reports detailing attempted Frauds against or involving the Bank
Press Cuttings

Birmingham Post: March 18th 1931 

Charged with attempting to obtain by false pretences a sum of £5 belonging to the Lord Mayor, aldermen and citizens of Birmingham, Frederick Arthur Rowcliffe, of 32, Beach Road, Sparkhill, was fined £10 at Birmingham Police Court yesterday.


Defendant appeared on a summons, and Mr M P Pugh (prosecuting) explained that the offence alleged against defendant was that he tried to get £5 from the Municipal Bank (Sparkbrook branch) when the balance in his favour was 12s 5d only. There had been an alteration in the pass book which showed £10 12s 5d, and the clerk at the counter, on receiving the slip written by defendant, had actually written “Repaid £5” in the book. “But,” said Mr Pugh, “the Birmingham Municipal Bank has a system which makes it impossible for people to get money out of the bank by fraud.” There was a double check on the accounts, and it was discovered from the bank accounts that the money was not there.


The man, therefore, did not get the money. On being spoken to, he said, “Oh, yes, there is something queer about my pass book. You know, I lost it six months ago and it was pushed back through my letter-box.”


Detective-inspector Prince said defendant was himself in the employ of the Corporation, being in the telephone department of the Birmingham Corporation Tramways. He had been employed there for twenty years. He also in his spare time carried on a watch repairing business in Stoney Lane and had a further account with the Midland Bank at Sparkhill. Accused had borne the best of characters.


Rowcliffe’s defence was that he knew nothing of the alteration in the book. After it came back to him he noticed he had a balance of £10 odd, and so he went to draw out £5. He certainly had not written anything in the book, and, knowing all about the system employed at the Municipal Bank, he certainly should not have tried to get anything out had he known it was not there. As he was operating two accounts at different banks he did not know that his balance at the Municipal Bank was so low, and believed the figures shown in his book to be correct.


The Stipendiary said he was not satisfied with the explanation. The small balance had stood as it was for six months and defendant must have known the position. It was a serious matter, and but for the fact that he was forty-six and had borne a good character all his life he would have gone to prison.


Birmingham Post: April 2nd 1931 

A remarkable letter, containing what purported to be a confession of forgery, was read to the Birmingham Stipendiary (Lord Ilkeston) yesterday, when John Ernest Kent, of 9, Tranter Road, Alum Rock, was summoned for attempting to obtain £3 10s from the Municipal Bank by false pretences with intent to defraud, and with endeavouring to obtain £3 10s from the bank by means of a forged receipt, knowing it to be forged.


Kent pleased guilty, and was fined £5 on each of the two summonses.


The letter, signed “J E Kent,” and addressed to the general manager of the Birmingham Municipal Bank, read:

On Saturday night, March 7, I attempted to obtain the sum of £3 10s from the account of the Post Office (Birmingham) Stores Benevolent Fund No M 14737 by means of a forged receipt. I am one of the trustees of the fund. The other trustees are Mr Herbert Smith and Mr Daniel John Sheehan, and three signatures are required for withdrawals. I signed the form myself and forged the signatures of both Mr D J Sheehan and Mr Herbert Smith.

My reason for doing this is that I had received the County Court summons for the sum of £2 15s 11d, being a balance of money owing for the purchase of clothing. I was worried about this, and attempted to obtain the sum of £3 10s from the account without realising what a serious and criminal thing I was doing.

I am a married man, forty-two years of age, and I have never been in trouble before. I have eight children, two of whom are at work, and they bring in the sum of about 30s per week, while my wages amount to £2 19s.

I can only think that the fact of having received the summons made me lose sight of the difference between right and wrong, and I can only say how extremely sorry I am that I have forged these two signatures, and throw myself on your mercy.

Mr Pugh (prosecuting) explained that Kent was treasurer to the Post Office (Birmingham) Stores Benevolent Fund and in order for withdrawals to be made on the Fund’s account in the Saltley branch of the Municipal Bank a receipt had to be signed by three trustees.


On March 7 Kent went to the Saltley branch and handed in a receipt with the signatures of Mr Sheehan and Mr Smith – two trustees of the fund – as well as his own on it. The clerk, however, upon checking the signatures, did not think they were satisfactory. When he told Kent so the latter said, “All right, I’ll go and get another signature.”


Kent, Mr Pugh said, went away and later came back with another similarly signed receipt, but again the clerk was not satisfied and refused to accept it. Kent became agitated and eventually left, saying he would bring Mr Smith himself.


For the third time he returned with a receipt which was supposed to be signed by Mr Smith and Mr Sheehan, and for the third time the clerk refused to acknowledge it. When Kent asked for the return of the receipt it was refused, and upon enquiry by the bank officials was found to be forged.


After reading the letter quoted, Mr Pugh explained that Kent had written another letter to the Municipal Bank, explaining why he did it.

Since this another deficiency of some £9 in the fund’s accounts had been found and traced to Kent who, presumably, said Mr Pugh, had taken the money for himself instead of crediting it in the bank to the fund.


Speaking for himself, Kent said he realised what a really criminal thing he had done. He had a good Army record and had been a public servant for twenty years. He pleaded not for himself so much as for his children.


Imposing the fines, the Stipendiary said he was not at all sure that he was doing right in not sending Kent to prison, and described his offence as a very deliberate attempt to obtain money by fraud from the Municipal Bank.


Birmingham Post: November 17th 1932 

An attempt to obtain £5 from the Municipal Bank be means of a stolen bank book was described at Birmingham Police Court yesterday when Arthur Charles Hawkins (26), and Florence Hawkins, husband and wife, of 79, Larches Street, Sparkbrook, were summoned for stealing Municipal Bank books, the property of Sarah Ann Horton and Violet Horton, mother and daughter, lodging at their house.


Mrs Hawkins was further summoned for attempting to obtain £5 by false pretences. Both of the accused pleaded guilty.


Mr M P Pugh (prosecuting) said the bank books were stolen from a bedroom occupied by Mrs Horton and Miss Horton, and afterwards Florence Hawkins presented Mrs Horton’s book at the Sparkbrook branch of the Municipal Bank, and signed a form “Mrs S A Horton,” requesting the withdrawal of £5.


The bank manager compared the signature with one he had in a book and asked Hawkins to sign again. In all he obtained three signatures from her. As none of these was satisfactory he asked Mrs Hawkins whether she was Mrs Horton, and she replied: “No. She’s my mother.” The manager then gave her a form for “her mother” to sign.


To Detective-sergeant MacKenzie, Mrs Hawkins said: My husband has been out of work for a month. He opened the door and I got the books out of a tin box. I am sorry for what has happened.”


The husband, who was also questioned, said: “I am very sorry. I went into the room. It is my fault, really.”


 Detective-sergeant MacKenzie said husband and wife had nothing previously against them and came of respectable families.

The Stipendiary said the offences were very serious. Arthur Charles Hawkins was sentenced to six weeks’ hard labour and his wife was bound over to come up for judgement within six months if called upon.


Birmingham Mail: April 27th 1936 


For what was described by the prosecution as a series of cunning and ingenious frauds, Eric Allan Roper (aged 32), a caster, of 3, St James Street, Ashted, Birmingham, was sentenced to six weeks’ hard labour by the Birmingham Stipendiary (Lord Ilkeston) to-day.


Roper pleaded guilty to obtaining 10s from Edwin Rushton, of 52, Lawley Street, Birmingham, by false pretences; stealing a Municipal Bank deposit book from the Aston Cross branch, and obtaining £1 from William Edwin Homer, of 177, Aston Road, Birmingham, by false pretences.


Mr M P Pugh (prosecuting) explained that it was customary for the Birmingham Municipal Bank - with a view to encouraging thrift - to issue deposit books to customers who opened accounts for as little a penny.


Roper went to the Aston Cross branch and opened an account with 6d. At the same time he stole another book which was lying on the counter. He then proceeded to fill up the two books with various amounts. With these he went to Mr Rushton and borrowed 10s from him.


Not content with these two books, Roper went to another branch of the bank and opened a further account with 6d in the name of J Cox. This book he also filled in with various amounts.


The authorities, added Mr Pugh, took a very serious view of the case. Roper’s explanation to the police when arrested was that he had been out of work for a long time. He said he had a wife and child and was expecting another child.


Mr H Williams (defending) said that while he did not want to minimise the offence, he suggested that a mountain had been made out of a molehill. There was nothing in the prisoner’s actions that interfered with the bank’s system. The only thing about it was that people should not advance money on a bank book.