4. Information Booth At Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station. Photo from Library of Congress.

In 1929, the Fortunato brothers, owners of the Fortunato Fruit Company were duped into renting out the information booth in Grand Central Station (in a previous incarnation before it became a terminal) for 50 weeks at $100,000 by two men under the aliases T. Remington Grenfall and Wilson A. Blodgett. The two con artists pretended to be the vice president and president, respectively, of a fictional company called “Grand Central Holding Corporation.

Grenfall had told the brothers that the information booth had shut down so the station decided to rent it out to merchants. As fruit merchants, all the brothers had to do was come up with the first 50 weeks worth of rent to get the contract. The Fortunato brothers delivered the $100,000 cashiers check to Blodgett and received a fake contract in return. The contract said the brothers could take over the booth on April 1st (ironically, April Fools Day).

So on April 1st, Tony and Nick Fortunato came to the information booth with their supplies to renovate it, only to see it was still occupied by information booth employees. The brothers showed the contract, yelling at the booth workers that it belonged to them now. The people working in the information booth refused to leave, and the police at the station refused to recognize the contract.

The brothers never got their $100,000 back, but continued to come once a year for a few years afterwards to harass the booth employees, which provided an exciting spectacle for passengers in the station. Grenfall and Blodgett, if those are their real names, were never caught.