Legend: A porn video retailer runs a clever scam by sending customers embarrassingly uncashable refund checks.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1998]
True Story – Australian Police have been unable to recommend a prosecution for the following scam:
A company takes out a newspaper advertisement claiming to be able to supply imported hard core pornographic videos. As their prices seem reasonable, people place orders and make payments via cheque.
After several weeks, the company writes back explaining that under the present law they are unable to supply the materials and do not wish to be prosecuted. So they return their customers’ money in the form of a company cheque. However, due to the name of the company, few people ever bother to present these to their banks.
The name of the company is:
- Some versions of this legend place it in New Zealand rather than Australia.
- Other versions omit references to locale and Americanize the spelling.
Origins: This legend appeared widely on the Internet in early 1998, apparently springing from Australian-based USENET newsgroups. A clever
setup offers a punchline that plays on our sexual duplicity: we’ll willingly buy and watch hard core porn videos, but we’ll throw away our money rather than admit to anyone else — even someone we don’t necessarily know — that we do.
For an American, at least, this one rates rather low in the plausibility category. Most of us deposit our checks by mail or through automated teller machines these days and rarely have any face-to-face contact with bank personnel. Even in the days before ATMs, the squeamish could always drop their “porn refund” checks in the night depository and avoid the embarrassment of presenting them to live tellers.
A similar legend placing the story in London, England, was in existence in the early 1990s. In that tale, 10,000 orders at
Sightings: This legend is discussed as a potential money-making scheme by characters in the 1998 comedy thriller Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.
Last updated: 1 March 2008