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W. R. Moss’ Hoax: Scam for California Hopkins Hotel and Fortune

In the 1960s and 1970s, one of the main schemes to get the Hopkins money came out of Virginia. (California railroad magnate Mark Hopkins died in 1878 without a will or designated heir – and the huge fortune he left behind was under siege for more than a century by scammers claiming a connection to the man, and therefore his money).

The claimants who contested the Hopkins fortune were part of an organized group that lured potential heirs to join with them to file in probate court. It was part of a con game that hustled the hopeful heirs to invest their own money, which supposedly would secure them a portion of the estate and the Hopkins fortune. The investors were sold stocks, or “contracts,” which promised them a hefty return.

There was always a front runner collecting. One fellow, W. R. Moss of Martinsville, Virginia, was one of the “confidence men” who lured in hundreds of hopeful heirs and sold contracts which listed Mark Hopkins’ real estate holdings, stocks, and millions in cash. Read more of my story at Genealogybank Blog

Greensboro Daily News (Greensboro, North Carolina), 4 September 1978, page 19

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