October 30, 2013

Soap with a valuable ring inside: A modern swindle of Soapy Smith proportions.

Soap with a prize inside!

ings worth $10 to $7500 with each bar of soap!

My good friend, Leah, up in Seattle, Washington clued me in on a soap ring. No not the bath tub variety, but actual soap, with a diamond ring prize inside. It has to be real because they are giving each buyer 10% off their first order (sarcasm).

The firm is called Jewelscent. For $15.00 a bar you can get a $10 ring (their appraisal). Once you have your soap "enjoy the luxurious lather of your Moroccan oil soap. As the soap wears down, your surprise jewel will be contained in a plastic pouch. Simply pull it out, dry, and remove the jewel from the pouch. Enjoy the rest of your soap and your dazzling new jewel!"

On their FAQ (frequently asked questions) page they state.

All of the rings we include in our products are worth anywhere from $10 to $100. If it’s valued more than that and up to $7,500, you will find a golden token with a claim number. Contact us, and we’ll ship out your prize in a separate package with a certificate of value.

Could it be this easy? What a perfect time to swindle the victim a second time. I'm pretty certain there is no $7,000 ring to be had, but I bet anyone that gets that "golden token" (if there is one) will get a very confusing document that requires more money and a legal loophole (an 'out') so that no big prize is ever won, or received.

What, me worry?

Although the site is "safe" and "inspected and monitored" (by whom) I recommend using Soapy's old message in Latin that hung on the entrance to the Tivoli Club in Denver, "Caveat Emptor," in purchasing this product. They do make a great souvenir example of a swindle game that is very related to the prize package soap sell racket performed by Soapy Smith.

Prize package racket

Prize package soap sell racket: pages 8, 15, 37-39, 41, 43, 45-56, 58, 75, 95-97, 106, 119-20, 149, 159, 163, 410, 464, 485.

"Dear Mr. con man
you wicked old sinner now
ain't you ashamed your con-
duct is simply a fright
With your jackpot to sweeten
And straights to be beaten
And chips that pass in the night"
— L.R.P. 1909


1735: John Adams, the future second president of the U.S., is born in Braintree, Massachusetts. His son, John Quincy Adams, will become the sixth president.

1831: Escaped black slave Nathaniel "Nat" Turner is apprehended in Southampton County, Virginia, several weeks after leading the bloodiest slave uprising (August 21, 1831) in American history, resulting in 60 white deaths and at least 200 black deaths. Turner is convicted, sentenced to death, and hanged on November 11, 1831.

1857: Soldiers from Fort McIntosh, Texas pursue and attack a band of Comanche Indians who had been raiding Laredo, Texas.

1864: Last Chance Gulch, in Montana Territory, is renamed Helena. Helena becomes a gold rush, the second biggest placer gold deposit in Montana, producing about $19 million in gold in just four years. In 1875, the city becomes the capital of Montana Territory, and in 1894, the capital of the new state of Montana.

1866: The outlaw James-Younger gang robs the Alexander and Company Bank in Lexington, Missouri of $2,011.50.

1868: Construction begins on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad in Topeka, Kansas.

1875: The Reverend O. P. Mains persuades bad man Clay Allison to beat a confession out of Cruz Vega, in a New Mexico Territory jail. Vega is suspected of assisting in the murder of Reverend F. J. Tolby. Vega implicated Manuel Cardenas as the murderer, and then vigilantes hung Vega from a pole. Vega was suffering so Allison shot the man dead. The body was taken down and dragged through the streets, and then left in the desert without a burial. On November 10th vigilantes stormed a jail and shot Cardenas to death.

1875: The constitution of Missouri is ratified by popular vote.

1882: George Ruby, a black Reconstruction politician, dies of malaria in New Orleans, Louisiana. Born and educated in the North, Ruby served with the Freedmen's Bureau, and was elected to the Texas State Senate in 1869. At the end of Reconstruction he retired and moved to Louisiana.

1893: The U.S. Senate gives final approval to repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890. This act destroyed the silver boom towns, such as Creede, Colorado, where Soapy Smith ruled as underworld boss. It is also partly at fault for the Panic of 1893.

1894: The time clock is patented by Daniel Cooper of Rochester, New York.


  1. Hi there! Actually, to this date, over 26 gold tokens have been found - and the company is not yet a year old. One lucky customer very recently got her hands on a $600 Aquamarine & Diamond pendant. Jewelscent does not require any additional money if a gold token is found - the reason they use a gold token is to protect extra-valuable item just in case something happens to the product before it reaches its intended customer. All they need to do is follow the instructions included with the gold token and send an email - then Jewelscent mails out their prize to them. No additional charge! It's REAL. I have yet to find a ring as cheap as $10. I have a cute set worth $66, and a friend found a ring worth $98 inside her candle. Anything over $100 will be a gold token :) Bottom line, it's not a scam. The products are high quality (candles are hand-poured soy wax, the soap is Moroccan Argan Oil, and all are scented with essential oils - NOT the crappy chemical stuff) and you can even select you preferred ring size - unlike OTHER ring-in-candle companies out there.

    1. Hello, Anonymous.

      Thanks for responding, but you won't get any customers on this site. You see, this blog is devoted to the history and methods of old west con man "Soapy" Smith. His real name was Jefferson Randolph Smith II and he was my great-grandfather. They called him "Soapy" because his most famous swindle was the prize package soap sell racket. In camps and towns across the west, between 1878-1898, in which, in full view of a crowd he had gathered, he would seemingly wrap a few cakes of soap with high denomination currency, and throwing them in with cakes of soap containing no cash prizes, he would sell them for $1 each. The sale would progress into an auctioning of the last few bars of soap, which usually netted over $100. It may not seem like much now days, but this swindle helped him finance three criminal empires, two in Colorado and one in Alaska.

      Today, Soapy's prize package soap sell racket still rakes in the dough. You can find it under "money soap." I collect them, but I never open them. They hold a place of "honor" in my bunco collection. Your operation is similar. I also have several friends who operate bunco games in numerous states, and they tell me the details of how they operate. It's historical curiosity for me. I would love to hear about the real workings of your business, but I fully understand you not wanting to disclose and endanger yourself. Safe travels.

  2. I recently purchased EIGHT jewelscent candles. I was not at all impressed with the scent of the candles, first of all. Two of the candles came with wicks that were non existent over the wax line, so I had to carve out some wax in order to burn them. Every single "jewel" was marked "SG24"..meaning they are "valued" at $15 on their own website. Five of the eight rings were kind of pretty. Three were absolutely awful. I did this to see if I wanted to sell these candles in my shop. Obviously, I learned that I do not. What I find telling is the spiel that they give you regarding how many valuable rings are available in their candles. What they tell you is that they randomly put the rings in the candles, therefore they cannot give you a good percentage of how many are winners. Does that make sense to ANYONE? If they were putting any valuable rings in these candles, you can bet they would know how many they placed per, say, 100 candles. What they say is that they cannot. It think my eight experiment candles were a very good representation of what this company is offering: junk jewelry in sub par wax. Thanks for your review and for making this information available to those who are considering buying into this scam.

  3. Hello, Ren.

    Thank you for writing in about your experience, although I'm sorry you were "taken." It's a very old swindle, one of which I recently found an ad from the 1850s. Cons and swindles, much like magic, have essentially not changed. The methods of using them have. In the days of my great grandfather, the con men would wrap up the prizes right in front of you, mix the lot up, and you could have your pick. Today, using the same method, it has become a lazy swindle, as the sharp need only make sure they stay within the legal bounds. The government would need to prove that the shill winners ("I won the $1,000 ring!) are not real, which is hard to do when done across state-lines.

    A good example of shill work can be had by checking out the "money soap" (cash inside a bar of soap) on Amazon. In the early days of swindlers using Amazon, they did not take into account that Amazon allows reviews, so the victims were able to destroy the business by warning people. In the link below there are 44 reviews, giving the soap proprietors a very high rating, and none of them claim to have won more than $2, although the cons advertise upwards of $50.


  4. Jeff, thanks for the link...fascinating! So many people writing in to say how fun it is to anticipate more than the $1 that they won...and also to complain about the stinky soap! Would be an interesting sociology project.

  5. If your buying soap to get rich quick, then be advised you to stay away from fragrant jewels. If you are buying soap because you like it and it’s just plain fun to get a surprise ring then it could be for you. We love the argon oil soap. It smells great and softens your skin. The rings are blingy and fun. However cheap or expensive they are beautiful and fun to collect and wear. Please stop trying to suck the fun out of life.

    1. "Please stop trying to suck the fun out of life."

      Dresden, in the nineteenth century the swindle you perpetrate was called the "prize package soap sell racket." The earliest record that I could find for it was 1851. My great grandfather ran the scam on street corners all across the west between 1879-1898. It's how he became known as "Soapy" Smith. It was a con then, and it's a con now. The main difference being that back then they wrapped the money around the cakes of soap right in front of the customers. Please don't insult us by pretending that anyone actually wins more than $1. Please don't insult us by introducing "shills" that will swear they won large amounts of cash. The only honest way of doing this is to be upfront about it not being a chance to win anything larger than $1.

      As far as "sucking the fun out of life," I think the fact that Soapy's old racket is STILL taking suckers for their money is a hoot. You have shown that the same old tricks still rake in the gullible marks. I love the history and stories of the old time bunco crooks, but I don't much like the modern ones. That's why I give presentations on Soapy's old games, including the prize package soap sell racket. On my sites I have the following quote.

      "Upon the world he made his mark, and from him we learn how not to be one."


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