A.B. Potter

In March 1897, Postal Inspectors had to solve a curious case. A fraudster, known as “A.B. Potter,” had been impersonating postal employees to commit crime for years until he was captured.

The Case of A.B. Potter (Postal Inspector Impersonator)

In March 1897, an interesting case struck the Postal Inspection Service. A man under the alias of A.B. Potter had been impersonating a Postal Inspector for several years until his capture in July 1897.

Investigating and Imposter

On June 15, 1897, A.B. Potter (alias) was indicted for impersonating a Postal Inspector and Postmaster.

Earlier that year, in March 1897, A.B. Potter wrote to business attorney William Hackett. The letter was signed “PM of Denver – A.B. Potter.” Hackett was suspicious and the letter was given to authorities to investigate.

Immediately the Denver Division was contacted and verified that no A.B. Potter had ever worked for their department. Records showed that Potter had been arrested several times in Colorado and was known to travel through Ohio and Pennsylvania. Somehow, he had always evaded any jail time when arrested.

Investigating and Imposter

By May 1897, multiple divisions were collaborating to locate A.B. Potter. He hadn’t been seen in Colorado, Ohio, or Pennsylvania in quite some time.

At the beginning of June 1897, Postal Inspector Fred D. Peer, from the New Orleans Division made the connection to A.B. Potter and John Curtain. Curtain had been arrested multiple times under different aliases in areas of Louisiana, Kentucky, and South Carolina.

Two vital people were able to identify John Curtain as A.B. Potter. Frank Joplin, Postmaster of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and J.B. Robertson, a clerk in New Orleans who had multiple run-ins with Curtain.

Once arrested, John Curtain confessed to blackmailing over 20 postal employees and impersonating several Inspectors as A.B. Potter. He was convicted and sentenced to one year in a Federal Prison.


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