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Will the Lady in Red Get Away With It?

Test your sleuthing skills by reading the Five-Minute Mystery below from bestselling author Ken Weber. The solution is at the bottom.

"This letter proves that the government owes us, so when do we get the money? Can't you just tap something into your computer there and take care of it?"

The woman standing over Walter Banks wore a vivid red dress set off by an elegant gold necklace. As she spoke, her strident voice carried far down the hall of the Veterans Administration building.

Walter tried to compensate by speaking softly. "Can you tell me how you obtained this letter, Mrs..."

"Porch," the woman said. "Eviana Porch. I've told you that already." She paused to rein in her irritation. "The letter was written to my grandmother. I found it yesterday when I was cleaning out the attic."

She reached across Walter's desk and tapped the paper. "Take a look at the signature. It was sent to her by Pershing himself."

Walter had definitely noticed the name: Gen. J. J. Pershing (Ret). He'd been commander-in-chief of the American Expeditionary Forces, and his name was all over the VA building. The signature was authentic, or else the best imitation he'd ever seen.

"Now read this paragraph here," Eviana said, tapping the paper again. Walter did.

Mustard gas was used at Argonne in 1918, as it was elsewhere during World War I. If your late husband was at Argonne as you say, with 91st division of Cameron's V Corps, then in my opinion you are eligible for a pension. It has been my custom to act on behalf of veterans' widows in these cases, but I have been retired from active service now for two years, since 1924, and therefore suggest you pursue this matter with your Congressman.

"I guess you owe us big-time," Eviana said. "With interest, too, because my grandmother never got one cent of pension."

Walter looked up at her. Clever, he thought, but not clever enough. The letter clearly was a fake.

How does Walter Banks know that Mrs Porch's letter is a fake?

Pershing allegedly wrote this letter in 1926, two years after his retirement. Not until World War II was the "Great War" of 1914-18 referred to as World War I.
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