The Order of Iris
In the early 1900s, many secret societies began to emerge throughout the U.S. Many of these societies, however, ended up being fruads. In 1914, the founder of The Iridescent Order of Iris was imprisoned for using the mails to defraud.
Order of Iris Fraud
Frederick Nugent was well known to Postal Inspectors as the "supreme leader of the Iridescent Order of Iris," an occultic group that emerged in the early 1900s. In addition to running the Order of iris, he was also the head of the Occult School of Sciences and ran the Magnetic Mineral Company.
Nugent would sell stones from his mineral company, which he claimed were part of the legendary "Iris Stone." In reality, they were common glass. Additionally, he sold "magic" magnets, which he claimed would cure illnesses and make the owner irresistible to the opposite sex. He also printed and sold manuals for the society that included secret handshakes, poems, and chants, and several pamphlets on the art of palm reading.
Order of Iris Fraud Cont.
At the height of his scheme, Nugent was mailing so many goods to the society members that he had to hire a team of six clerks to fill and send the orders. By the time, Nugent had a following of over 1,800 members and was charging up to $10 (about $250 today) for minor trinkets.
The magnitude of fraudulent mail being sent by Nugent led to his ultimate conviction. Postal Inspectors followed the massive paper trail and arrested him in New York on December 1, 1914, for using the mails to defraud.
Fred Nugent was sentenced to 19 months in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary.
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