The Thieving Duck

A duck robs a poor innocent woman as she’s distracted by the cute ducklings. Moments later they all rush off with their ill-gotten gains!

What you don’t see is the camera crew, make-up and lighting people and a small crowd watching from behind them. This was for some advert and of course the woman in question is a model.
I shot this on State Street, Chicago after stumbling upon the shoot by accident. They didn’t seem to mind, and I even got a dazzling smile from the model!

I like this: xtreme (login may be required)

2006-10-03 – Welcome visitors from, thanks Kathy B for linking here, I appreciate it. Please feel free to leave a comment! have now published this picture and the joke description on a separate page linking to this blog. Thank you!

2006-10-07 – John Marguess pointed me at Organized Crime which uses the same image in another joke email! Thanks John!

Here’s the text of the joke email (via snopes) for those of you who go searching for the origins of it. I’d love to know who concocted it in the first place!

Seems the Better Business Bureau got a complaint the other day about a scam in which AFLAC allegedly was taking advantage of women on the street and stealing their money.
Now we all at one time or another have thought that INSURANCE Companies have stolen from us; however, this scam is netting COLD HARD CASH from unsuspecting individuals.
The way it works is the thief uses children to distract the target. While admiring the cuteness of the kids the target is robbed of her cash and never knows what hit her.
I’m sending this out for all to be aware that this is happening and it’s right out on the streets in front of the general public.
A passer-by with a digital camera phone happened to capture the photo attached.
Review it carefully and use caution when distractions like this come along.
Good Luck, and don’t say you weren’t warned.

According to Snopes, it was an advert showing how safe Western Union money transfer system was. I really should have asked someone..

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  • Flickr: corksurf August 23, 2006 Reply

    corksurf has posted a comment:

    Brilliant shot Donncha! Very Funny!

    You shouldn’t have mentioned the camera crew :)

    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: C Ray Dancer August 23, 2006 Reply

    C Ray Dancer has posted a comment:

    Haha – classic!


    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: jdiazpdemadrid August 23, 2006 Reply

    jdiazpdemadrid has posted a comment:

    fantastic shot and very funny too.


    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: crabbygobyebye August 23, 2006 Reply

    crabbygobyebye has posted a comment:


    what a smart duck!

    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: Parallax1 August 23, 2006 Reply

    Parallax1 has posted a comment:

    haha, very smart!


    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: **sadi** August 23, 2006 Reply

    **sadi** has posted a comment:




    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: Tex Flix August 23, 2006 Reply

    Tex Flix has posted a comment:

    This is hilarious! Nicely seen and captured.

    From 1-2-3

    The Thieving Duck

  • micki August 23, 2006 Reply

    A fine catch! You were certainly in the right place at the right time.

  • Duck August 23, 2006 Reply

    Another example of the superiority of ducks.

  • Donal August 23, 2006 Reply

    Great shot. Think you showed me this one ages back. How you putting your Flickr comments here? I like the idea of removing the date in the post title, probably not possible on WordPress for me. Plus, you have to be careful not have two identical titles.

  • Donncha August 23, 2006 Reply

    Donal – I think I did show you it. It’s been sitting on my computer since last year, and I processed it last February!

    The idea of merging Flickr comments into my blog came to me last night and I was up until all hours working on a plugin that grabs the “Latest Activity” rss feed from my Flickr stream and inserts them into my comments table. It works quite well, although it’ll have limited use because it’s so specialised. The image on Flickr has to have the same title as the post here, and it won’t update a comment if someone updates it on Flickr.
    Expect a release in a few days time, but unfortunately not something we’ll put on!

  • Matty August 23, 2006 Reply

    I love the photo. I trying to work out what the advert what was for. Some sort of Bird Flu awareness thing? “It won’t just cost your life. It’ll cost you cash!” Always a good way of scaring people.

  • Matty August 23, 2006 Reply

    I’ll try again. I love the photo. I’m trying to work out what the advert was for……

  • Flickr: *_spike [experiment] August 23, 2006 Reply

    *_spike [experiment] has posted a comment:

    Funny :)


    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: umar.s August 23, 2006 Reply

    umar.s has posted a comment:

    haha… thats cool.

    if you hadn’t described the setting, i’d have thought this was real.


    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: ♫ marc_l'esperance August 23, 2006 Reply

    ♫ marc_l’esperance has posted a comment:

    LOL – the dangers of the modern city!

    "Look at me" (?)

    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: Prasangam August 24, 2006 Reply

    Prasangam has posted a comment:

    First Thoughtwats in the bag

    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: Árni Svanur August 23, 2006 Reply

    Árni Svanur has posted a comment:


    First Thought

    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: ~ Cati Kaoe ~ August 24, 2006 Reply

    ~ Cati Kaoe ~ has posted a comment:

    hahaha LOL!

    We can trust in ducks anymore..


    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: AprilDreams August 24, 2006 Reply

    AprilDreams has posted a comment:

    First Thought


    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: chromachord August 24, 2006 Reply

    chromachord has posted a comment:

    This is adorable! Love it…

    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: Yago J Veith August 24, 2006 Reply

    Yago J Veith has posted a comment:


    sweet :)

    The Thieving Duck

  • Brian August 24, 2006 Reply

    That’s too funny.

  • Flickr: robigouk August 25, 2006 Reply

    robigouk has posted a comment:

    Caught in the quack.. I mean act!!!

    The Thieving Duck

  • Flickr: Dr Tao (j'�tais en vacances) August 26, 2006 Reply

    Dr Tao (j’tais en vacances) has posted a comment:

    Love ther moment! Great!

    The Thieving Duck

  • .. October 4, 2006 Reply

    [...] Looks like I’ve made it. One of my photos was used on the messageboard without linking back to me or crediting me. I shouldn’t be surprised I suppose, but I am a little angry at the original poster. Thankfully someone linked to it further down in the conversation. Thanks Kathy B. [...]

  • Gibbie October 4, 2006 Reply

    Looks like I’ve made it. One of my photos was used on the messageboard without linking back to me or crediting me. I shouldn’t be surprised I suppose, but I am a little angry at the original poster. Thankfully someone linked to it further down in the conversation.

    That would be because someone has scraped the photo out of your blog and has started sending it around the internet. Which would be why it appeared on snopes looking for verification. Congrats! You’re about to be an internet phenome. Your duckies are going to pop up for years. :)

  • Donncha October 4, 2006 Reply

    Wow, so my photo is being sent about the place by email? Didn’t know that!

    Four Kitties – I’m not mad at snopes specifically. I had never heard of before this. I didn’t know that my photo was being used in an email. Makes me wish I had watermarked the image now.

  • Donncha October 4, 2006 Reply

    Oh, and read my about page, I’m a guy :)

  • Grey October 4, 2006 Reply

    Don’t feel bad about not watermarking it. Thanks to Snopes, anyone who cares is going to know where it came from. That’s what led me here.

  • Donncha October 4, 2006 Reply

    Thanks for pointing that out Grey, I hadn’t thought of that! Thanks Snopes for publishing it, and thank you again Kathy B for linking here!

  • pixelmeow October 4, 2006 Reply

    Love Snopes, I have it on my Google home page, and this story’s headline is up today. Love the picture!

  • MH October 6, 2006 Reply

    Forwarded photo with snope description to my local email jokemaster – so now at least another hundred people will see it.

  • Holly October 6, 2006 Reply

    Great, great photo op. It’s amazing how people can fall for pranks like that. But ya know, why else do they put “Do not touch iron when hot!” warnings on things? Anyhoots, great pic.

  • erutan October 13, 2006 Reply

    Aww- Wanted it to be real. Great photo.

  • Balmark November 9, 2006 Reply

    :) Donncha, your photo is part of an urban legend :D heh

  • mongoose November 27, 2006 Reply

    I havn’t seen this one circulating through my emails yet but I am sure I will lol
    I found it searching through snopes looking for Nigerian scams using Western Union as a means to
    obtain thier booty. Funny that this should turn out to be an ad for Wstern Union saying how secure they are.
    I always do my homework when it comes to scams!
    Anyone ever hear the addage: Did you ever try to milk a duck? hehehe
    By the way Donncha, you are an excellant photographer!

  • katie lucas December 20, 2006 Reply

    this is hilarious and cute this is my new fav. website besides addicting so thanx’s!

  • ft lauderdale photographer January 13, 2007 Reply

    This photo is great! I didn’t expect a duck to be a thieving animal. A raccoon yes, duck no:) Must be a New York duck!

  • [...] to one of my posts so I checked my referrers and found that and avalon5 had linked to my Thieving Duck sending a good number of [...]

  • gsm February 3, 2007 Reply

    First thought was they trained it to do that, mind me that ducks can’t be trained. Unlike other pets who can re-act or respond to certain behavior.

  • Flickr: compujeramey February 5, 2007 Reply

    compujeramey has posted a comment:

    Used this on my blog,

    The Thieving Duck

  • Rob - web page tools February 21, 2007 Reply

    I found using wordpress to design my web sites a great time saver and with plugins for automatic sitemap generation and SEO optimisaion and easy changing of themes its such a web design time saver. If fact i just made a template from the theme im currently using and after veiwing the souce code i just saved as html and with a bit of copy and pasting moved all the content on my older html pages to the new template now my older pages all look the same as the blog template. On a new site this isnt a problem but this one has been around a while before i used wordpress. Still have a load of article pages to move over but i should be able to automate some of it with a few block text replacer programs i have. Hope to try out a flickr plugin soon to add some photoshop video tutorials.

  • Flickr: The Consumerist March 6, 2007 Reply

    The Consumerist has posted a comment:

    Hi, I’m an admin for a group called, and we’d love to have your photo added to the group. Bear in mind that doing so releases the photo for use on, read our About to learn more.

    The Thieving Duck

  • John March 10, 2007 Reply

    Your picture is in this video too…

  • Flickr: foolswisdom April 1, 2007 Reply

    foolswisdom has posted a comment:

    Lucky stumble, fun photo. Anyone know what the commercial is?

    The Thieving Duck

  • Goozak April 1, 2007 Reply

    This picture was featured on the Cute Overload web site. I found your page through a Google search that sent me to Snopes’ page.

  • .. April 1, 2007 Reply

    [...] would love to know who made an email attachment of my thieving duck and thank [...]

  • Leice April 3, 2007 Reply

    This was too funny! Staged or not, it is hilarious. I mean, for this duck to be trained enough to do this act is unbelievable (that is, if ducks can be trained!)

  • Dianna April 11, 2007 Reply

    Darling picture. Too cute to be true, then I looked at the ducks feet. Aww, so that’s how they got the ducks to pose. They’re stuffed!

  • Andrine April 16, 2007 Reply

    Hi – I posted this at due to his affinity for ducks and their antics. Someone credited you as I didn’t know the author of the photo. Please let me know if you would like me to take it down.

  • Anonymous April 26, 2007 Reply

    Funny, but the babies look like gosslings

  • Flickr: spudart April 30, 2007 Reply

    Hi, I’m an admin for a group called Chicago animals that are native to chicago, and we’d love to have your photo added to the group.

  • Flickr: seawallrunner May 31, 2007 Reply

    oh this is great! Saw it on the Consumerist this morning.

  • Flickr: seawallrunner May 31, 2007 Reply

    oh this is great! Saw it on the Consumerist this morning.

  • Flickr: DjMagra June 1, 2007 Reply

    Did Consumerist ask / pay for this?

  • Flickr: xeer June 1, 2007 Reply

    DjMagra – yeah, they asked. See the comment from them a few comments above? There was an uproar about them using images with crediting photographers but they got such a response they did the right thing and provided credit!
    Besides, I can’t sell the image. That model didn’t sign a model release form..

  • .. June 1, 2007 Reply

    [...] My Thieving Duck has been used on the Consumerist website! That photo seems to be rather well known! [...]

  • [...] Your Photos: How to Defend Your Copyright – I have a keen interest in this after my Thieving Duck became a joke email [...]

  • Ricky June 14, 2007 Reply

    It was in the News of the World supplement last Sunday.

  • [...] found out that my Thieving Duck was used by the News of the World last Sunday without permission. Thanks [...]

  • [...] you read the UK Sunday newspaper, The News Of The World? A comment was left on my photoblog yesterday saying that newspaper used my Thieving Duck image in their [...]

  • Flickr: BillyWarhol June 15, 2007 Reply


    nice steal*

    Seen on (?)

  • [...] it’s simple to steal photos these days, and I spotted my Thieving Duck on yet another joke site. Most recently, the News of the World used it, this time it’s on [...]

  • [...] by the cute ducklings. Moments later they all rush off with their i1l-gotten gains!Later the true story behind the image was known: ‘What you don’t see is the camera crew, make-up and [...]

  • [...] anyone want to claim credit for the others? Unfortunately email forwarders don’t usually give credit [...]

  • [...] moons ago I posted the infamous Thieving Duck that went viral when someone robbed it, added a funny story and emailed it around. Apparently [...]

  • Electric Wires September 19, 2008 Reply

    [...] The cheezburger are the latest blog to use the Thieving Duck. Hope they link back to the original post. PPS. They did, saw a trickle of hits from [...]

  • Flickr: ѕноᴋу вѕвѕ October 20, 2008 Reply

    lol this is nice advert , and great shot

  • [...] source Like This? Then Check Out: Duck Duck … MooseSick of co-workers stealing your lunch? [...]

  • Flickr: plaviplanet January 16, 2009 Reply

    now that ive seen this, i remember some cash missing last week, and there were some ducks around… hmmm

  • Flickr: Mick h 51 May 6, 2009 Reply

    Ha ha
    Anyone got a link to the advert!

  • Peter Lindquist August 13, 2009 Reply

    Hey the model here looks like Jessica Cutler, isn’t she gorgeous

  • [...] true story is that this photo was taken by Donncha O. Caoimh, and comes from her In Photos site. She took the picture in Chicago. It is, sadly, not a real duck mastermind, but is from a shoot for [...]

  • Ricky December 16, 2009 Reply

    This picture appears in the ‘Irish Sun’ today.

    • Donncha December 16, 2009 Reply

      Thanks Ricky, must pick up a copy of that paper!

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