Wilson’s assistant, Spaulding, brought him the advertisement and told him about the position.
Everything about the Red-headed League was fake. You would think that name alone would make a person suspicious. Mr. Wilson is not the gullible type though. Watson describes him as “slow” and naturally he would not be suspicious. He tells Holmes and Watson that Spaulding, his new assistant, is the one who told him about the League.
“ ‘Why,’ says he, ‘here's another vacancy on the League of the Redheaded Men. It's worth quite a little fortune to any man who gets it, and I understand that there are more vacancies than there are men, so that the trustees are at their wits' end what to do with the money…”
Wilson explains that he never leaves his office. He describes himself as a “very stay-at-home man.” The criminals had to come up with a clever way to get him out for hours at a time so they could dig into the bank next door. The Red-headed League was the only way to do it. They needed to offer him a lot of money, but there had to a reason. So they came up with a clever ruse.
Wilson fell for the story of eccentric American millionaire Ezekiah Hopkins who “had a great sympathy for all redheaded men” and formed the League to protect their interests. He let Spaulding talk him into closing the shop and going to the interview.
Another point of suspicion is the fact that there are many red-headed people, but they immediately choose him—even though he is not married, which they claim is important. Then, they want to make sure that he is away from his business. Spaulding is more than ready to volunteer to look after it for him.
The most bizarre aspect of the whole thing is that he can never leave, or he forfeits his wages.
‘Well, you have to be in the office, or at least in the building, the whole time. If you leave, you forfeit your whole position forever. The will is very clear upon that point. You don't comply with the conditions if you budge from the office during that time.'
They really want to keep Wilson there! The work he is doing, which they call “nominal” is even more bizarre. He is copying the Encyclopaedia Britannica. That’s it. What is the point? For this he is paid £4 a week.
It is a little hard to find one suspicious thing about this. They kind of pile up. First, Spaulding brings him the advertisement and gets him to the interview. Then, they immediately give him the job despite all of the candidates with red hair, and the fact that he has no family. Next, they ask him if he can be there certain hours and Spaulding volunteers to "watch" the business for him. Then, they offer to pay him for copying an encyclopedia but he forfeits the job for leaving the room at any time! Yep, the suspicious aspects of the interview just pile on!
Holmes, upon hearing about this, would have known immediately what was going on. While he may not have had all of the pieces, he would have had enough to know that Spaulding was a criminal who lured Wilson in, and that all he needed were a few more pieces of the puzzle before he figured out the bank robbery plot. This one would take some leg work! Holmes just had to go look at Wilson's shop and see why they wanted him out of it.