|“||After a while you realize the job has changed you, and not always for the better.||”|
From TNT: The Leverage team hits the recession-driven Cash-for-Gold industry by targeting a corrupt brother-sister team and steering them through an elaborate treasure hunt.
Tommy and Barbara Madsen, brother and sister owners of Gold to be Sold, a Portland, OR based cash-for-gold company. The brother and sister team purchase gold from unsuspecting consumers at far-below market prices, then claim it has been melted when customers attempt to reclaim their items.
The con that Hardison used for this episode was of his own invention. He relates it to video games, and uses the psychology of addiction to control the marks. He even went as to give the team Player Names. Parker was Gold, Nate is Mercury, Sophie was Silver and Eliot was Mr. Punchy. (Eliot was hesitant at first, but loved his character after seeing it become animated). The con was called the Double Pronged Monkey, which gives the marks obstacles to overcome, engaging their sense of danger and adventure and leading them back for more. What Hardison didn't take into account was that his con was too elaborate, and that the marks became bored and reluctant. This caused Hardison to escalate and oversell his alias, blowing his cover. He took his failure very strongly, but Nate was there to fix his loose ends by being one step ahead. Nate told Alec his con was too complex, and the marks "rage quitted", a common gamer term when the player quits in frustration.
- Tommy Madsen (Todd Stashwick):
- Barbara Madsen (Sasha Barrese):
- Cash for gold schemes are becoming increasingly common as world-wide economic recovery continues. Although some companies do pay for gold at a rate commensurate with the gold's value, many pay only pennies on the dollar, justifying their actions by claiming they must recover the costs of melting the gold or that consumers should expect a low-ball offer when they use a mail-in service for convenience. Most have ten-day to two-week return policies, but will delay the issuance of checks so as to reduce the window of time for returns to one or two days at best. In the end, consumers get less than they would get using a pawn shop. Thus far, these schemes remain legal and unregulated.
- Portland's underground tunnels featured in the episode are real. The tunnels run under Portland's Old Town and Chinatown neighborhoods, connecting the basements of many of the major hotels and office buildings to the riverfront. A popular urban myth is that the tunnels were used to "shanghai" able bodied men who would be sold to ships' captains and wake up aboard cargo ships sailing for Asian ports. Although the practice was common in San Francisco, historians agree there is no reliable evidence it ever took place in Portland, which is well inland from the Pacific Ocean. Rather, the tunnels were used to deliver goods to the buildings they connect, avoiding the above-ground traffic. Despite this, several companies run tours, claiming to show the undergound network, including cells where kidnapped men were held. The sidewalk level steel doors, used to access the below-ground levels of buildings, were the entrances to the tunnels, and a favored starting point for tours is Hobo's Restaurant on N.W. Third Ave, seen in the episode.
- The donuts Parker, Hardison and Eliot were seen eating came from Voodoo Doughnuts, an institution on Portland's contemporary culinary scene. Known for its large, unusual donuts for which customers line up around the block, Voodoo Doughnuts features donuts topped with Captain Crunch or Fruit Loops (as seen in the episode), maple bacon bars, and a range of traditional donuts made in both traditional and not-so-traditional flavors.
- The rapper character featured in the opening promotion for the cash-for-gold company may be loosely based on M.C. Hammer. After the decline in his career and loss of much of his fortune, Hammer engaged in a number of business ventures, including taking an equity stake in Cash4Gold, one of the largest and most closely scruitinized of the numerous cash-for-gold companies currently operating nationwide.
- The phone number listed in the cash-for-gold company's commercial is 1-617-555-0194
- The Shanghai Tunnels appear again as a plot element in The Long Goodbye Job.