That "What's your pornstar name?" meme - did it start as an identity-theft scam?

You know the one - take your first pet’s name and your mother’s maiden name. Fluffy Delamere*, har-dee-har.

I was discussing this with a friend and said, well obviously it’s just a scam to get you to reveal your personal info - after, all, what are two of the most common “security questions” for password resets, online banking or whatever? What’s your mother’s maiden name, and what was the name of your first pet. My friends says this is ridiculous and that I’m being paranoid.

What say the Dope?

  • not my real pornstar name.

That is ridiculous – you don’t use your mother’s maiden name for the pornstar name, you use the name of the street where you grew up.

Wow, I was just thinking about this yesterday. I’m sorry I don’t have the answer to your question of how it started, but it does sound suspiciously like an ID theft scam.

Even if it was started innocently, I can easily imagine it being used for ID theft.

That’s the most paranoid nonsense I’ve ever heard.


I heard the pornstar name thing long before there were any websites with security questions. (And yeah, Nametag has it right.)

The game was not devised for this nefarious purpose, but I suppose it could be used that way.

Togo Imperial.

Websites, perhaps (I was wondering how long it had been around), but telephone banking has been around for a while, and I’m pretty sure that uses security questions too…

Sadly, I had not even heard about this until the xkcd comic a few months back (where Randall wants to own a pet ‘Mister’ and move to ‘Rogers’ street so his kid could never get into porn).

Somehow, “Buffy 196th Street” doesn’t really work for anyone, let alone a man…

Tell me about it. My porn star name would be “Mittens Prison”. I don’t know what kind of porn would feature a man named Mittens Prison but I have to figure it’s a niche market.

Once again, I win the “Worst/Most Niche Porn Star Name” competition without even trying. Sigh.

  • Scabby Grubb.

I guess “Bear” has potential, but “Bear 71” just doesn’t work.

I suppose it might have started as an identity theft scam, IF:

-a complete stranger asks you what your porn name or soap opera name is, ANDIF
-he also asks you for your real name, ANDIF
-he also asks you for the names of instititutions with which you have internet-accessible accounts.

Me, I’ve only ever seen the porn and soap name thing queried on anonymous internet discussion boards, or in person with friends.

Exactly. I don’t know what kind of damn fool ideas they’re filling those kids heads with these days.

Sam Congaree is, unfortunately, clearly more noir detective than porn star. And nobody wants to watch The Postman Always Cums Twice, In and Out and In and Out of the Past, or Double In Dem Titties.

God, those were weak. I’m so sorry.

(posted by Erin Indiana)

I think the vast majority of folks who forwarded the meme were just doing it for fun, and I would imagine the person who thought it up just thought it up for fun.

But, I think your conditions for successful ID theft are too restrictive:

-The scammer doesn’t have to be a complete stranger; people often scam their friends and acquantances. And anyway if you were an ID theft victim, you probably wouldn’t suspect your pals. Also, the scammer could send the meme email out to a whole group of people he is very loosely affiliated with (say, everyone in his class or everyone on a listserv he recently joined) and expect that some people in the group will respond even though they don’t know the sender personally. Alternatively, the scammer could compromise Bob’s email account and use it to send the meme to everyone in Bob’s contact list, in which case the recipients think, “Oh, that Bob! What a card!”

-If the scam is being conducted over email (which is the way I always saw the meme), the scammer now at least has your email address, and probably your name. If it’s being done on a message board, a certain number of people on the board will either share their email addresses in their profiles or will use their handles as their email addresses. If not, the scammer can try to game the password reset function of the message board to get into your profile, where your email address could be found.

-If he can get into your email by gaming the password reset feature of that, he probably has information on institutions you do business with because they have sent you statements or other correspondence. Then, he can game the password reset to those sites, or use the “email me a new password” feature. Or, the email account might be the end goal itself. A lot of the phishing scams I’ve seen were ultimately just going after the victim’s email account so they could stage spamming campaigns from it.

So, BadGuy does this: joins “Romance Readers Email Group”; participates lightly; sends “porn name” meme to everyone; gets a bunch of replies; goes to work on their email accounts; defeats the password rest feature on some small percentage of them; if there is banking information in the account, attacks the bank logon, if not, uses the email account for spamming; Profit!

Again, I’m not saying this was widespread or that the person who thought it up intended it. Just saying it is certainly do-able. And, I imagine that at least some criminals tried it and succeeded. Scammers are willing to fail a lot if they have the possibility of scoring big. One victim with a few grand in the bank makes it all worthwhile for a guy pounding a keyboard in Nigeria.

I would’ve been stuck with “Rusty Pt. Loma” myself, which sounds more like a grizzled old sea dog than a porn star.

Well, my first pets were named Mitzi and Lady, which wouldn’t work because I’m a guy, and I grew up in the country with a “Rural Route…Box…” address. This game doesn’t work!

That or something you would go see a doctor about.

Posted by Mr. Gertrude N. 17th Street