In 1938, the head of a wallet manufacturer included a sample Social Security card with each new wallet to showcase that his product held the new cards so well (Social Security numbers were first issued in 1935 as part of the New Deal Social Security program).

The entrepreneur used his secretary’s Social Security number on the sample card, and the number was subsequently used either fraudulently or mistakenly again and again. In 1941, The New Yorker speculated that perhaps some people believed 078-05-1120 became their Social Security number because they had purchased the wallet. The Social Security Agency eventually voided the number, but similar cases arose through the years. In 1940, the Social Security Board made the same mistake by including a sample image on a pamphlet that contained the number 219-09-9999, which at least one confused woman tried to use.