Mail Order FlimFlam

During the 1980s, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service conducted a program of consumer awareness designed to make people more aware of mail order fraud. Inspectors gave talks at schools, businesses, senior centers, etc., and during the presentation they showed examples of actual flimflam products that con artists had sold through the mail.

Below are some of the items they displayed. (Source: Postal Life magazine - April 1986).

The Vision Dieter, $19.95. These glasses had one blue and one red lens and were supposed to affect the retina of the eye in order to make food look unappetizing.

Universal Coat Hanger, $3.95.

Engraved picture of Abraham Lincoln, $10.
Pet Baby Rattler, $19.95. The Inspection Service uncovered the "baby rattler" scam after following up on a complaint filed by the National Humane Society in Washington D.C., which had seen the ad and wanted to prevent the "snakes" from being mailed because of the possible detrimental effect upon them.

Guaranteed Bug Killer, $3.00. These two blocks of wood came with instructions to smash the bug between them.

Solar Clothes Dryer, $9.99.

Compact Food Server, $13.95.


Posted on Mon Dec 08, 2014


There is a well-established story in my family that a great-uncle was caught by the "Guaranteed Bug-Killer" scam before the First World War .... A good idea never goes out of style.
Posted by David J Wilson  in  NM  on  Mon Dec 08, 2014  at  03:28 PM
Bit of a scam on the penny - they aren't actually engraved.
Posted by Robin Bobcat  in  Californian Wierdo  on  Mon Dec 08, 2014  at  09:25 PM
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