Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Vanishing Checks

New method for cheating people
  (+6, -2)
(+6, -2)
  [vote for,

Print counterfeit bank checks on paper that rapidly dissolves on contact with air. Seal them individually in plastic. Open them one at a time and use them for purchases. After the check has dissolved, (leaving only a tiny, undetectable residue) the person you have foisted it on will assume he or she has lost it and the funds will remain in your bank account, leaving you to enjoy goods and services without paying for them.

Disclaimer: I think it’s wrong to cheat people. It’s just an idea.

snarfyguy, Jun 15 2001

Flash Paper http://www.seps.org...83139508.22522.html
[jutta, Jun 15 2001]

Bio Degradation http://www.halfbake...a/Bio_20Degradation
Suitable for Going Out of Business cards. [reensure, Jun 15 2001]

Insta Check Merchant System http://www.insta-ch...chants/merchant.htm
21 Dec 02 | Turns a purchase with a check into an instant electronic transaction. [bristolz, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       ...but, but, but....if they "rapidly" dissolve, then they will be *gone* before you can fill them out, hand them to someone, and walk away.... what you need is a check that will dissolve in 7.5 minutes....gives you time to fill it out, time for the clerk to look it over - stamp it - put it in the cash register, and time for you to get safely to your car and on your way.
Susen, Jun 15 2001

       Right, Susen. By rapidly I meant several minutes, rather than several seconds.
snarfyguy, Jun 15 2001

       I'm not aware of any substance that would pass as paper but which evaporates into a "tiny, undetectable residue" after a few minutes. If such a thing did exist, the fraud possibilities would extend well beyond checks.
egnor, Jun 15 2001

       Dammit egnor! What the hell am I paying those guys down at the lab for? So you can come here to my office and tell me they can't figure out how to do it? Do I have to do *everything* myself?
snarfyguy, Jun 15 2001

       Paying those guys down at the lab, my ass. All we ever get from you is empty envelopes!   

       Nitrocellulose (sold to magicians as "flash paper") burns up quickly with little residue. I've never touched it and don't know whether it could pass for paper, but if did, I can't imagine it to be hard to build a chemical fuse for it that is set off by some buffer substance evaporating. (Disclaimer: Setting off an explosive reaction in a confined space like a cheques drawer is not a good idea, even when you're not trying to defraud people.)
jutta, Jun 16 2001

       Someone must think this is a great idea. I recently received an email that promised me a thorough treatment of this very idea and about 100 other amazing tricks for getting the best, cheapest, and freest leg up on just about everyone. I felt I couldn't justify the suggested retail price of the particular book, so I wouldn't recommend it to you. I might recommend 'The Big Black Book' if it is in a current printing.
reensure, Jun 16 2001

       The self-igniting flash paper might work better for Mission Impossible-style self-destructing messages.   

       But it's not impossible to imagine that the reaction rate might be controlled; perhaps it could be persuaded to oxidize slowly. The result probably wouldn't pass muster on close examination, but how many cashiers closely examine your checks?   

       (But then, by that principle, you might as well just pass a counterfeit bill, or a check drawn on a nonexistent bank account with a false name, or whatever.)   

       Maybe biodegradable paper (as reensure suggests) would work, though I can't see it happenning on a scale of minutes. But how to get the moisture your beasties will need to consume your rice sugar paper? Are there any bacteria that can grow and eat things in low-moisture environments?
egnor, Jun 16 2001

       <slight aside> Under UK law, the offence of passing a dud cheque is 'Uttering a fraudulent instrument'. How very British.</slight aside>
angel, Jun 16 2001

       Flash paper is very thin, a la tissue paper. Wouldn't make a believable check, and would be hard to write on in any case. Would be fun to try and laser-print, too...
StarChaser, Jun 16 2001

       The devious advantage of self-destructing paper over simple fake cheques is that cashiers often record the hard-to-fake card number or driver's license id of a customer who pays with a cheque. But of course, they write it _on_ the cheque.
jutta, Jun 16 2001

       (Imagines the prank capacity of a paper that destroys itself at the fuser in a laser printer)
phoenix, Oct 26 2001

       <grin> Just run sheets of labels through twice. The fuser heats the glue so it's not as well-fastened, and then when it goes through again, labels peel off, attach themselves to things inside the printer, and the printer is No More.
StarChaser, Oct 27 2001

       In the UK you used to be able to buy Biros that had vanishing ink inside. Anything you wrote would disappear (can't remember how long the writing lasted). Haven't seen them about for some while now.
pussygalore, Oct 27 2001

       Here goes. I'm only extremely close to high school level chemistry so cut me some slack. Cobalt chloride(CoCl3 i believe) can theoretically be made into a dye using water as a solvent. Make sure the check has a light blue background and use the cobalt chloride dye to print the template and write onto it. It should come out as a red ink, but as the water evaporates and the oxygen is removed (when kept in a warm place like a cash drawer) it should turn a light shade of blue. When the cash drawer is emptied, a busy manager will just think it is a blank piece of paper and throw it out.   

       If you wanted the paper itself to dissolve then if you could lace paper with elemental potassium or maybe elemental sodium particles. Those (K especially) react violently with oxygen, and could easily destroy a regular cheque or ignite a flash paper cheque. Safety is an issue, though.
avatar2, Dec 31 2001

       If you laced the stuff with powdered alkali metals, wouldn't you have to keep the cheque book in oil when you weren't using it to stop it from combusting?
cp, Dec 31 2001

       I could be wrong, wrong, wrong, but most checks these days are scanned at the point-of-purchase. In fact, lately, on several occasions, I have received my cancelled check back, as the receipt, at the cash register. The payment complete--the paper check' s job complete.
bristolz, Dec 31 2001

       ok, there would be a couple ways this check idea might work for someone more foolhardy than me 1. write two checks. on the first check is one chemical that reacts in some way with another chemical to make it lose its bonding properties (you wouldnt necessarily need the paper to disappear or blow up, just fall apart into tiny shreds of wood fiber- would be harder to put together than something put through a good shredder) you go to your favorite store, buy whatever you want and leave. Directly behind you in line is your best friend who would never rat you out. he buy stuff with his own check that contains the other reactive substance. since then checks will be put in the same spot, one on top of the other, they will start to react as soon as the 2nd check is slipped into the drawer. 2. simply go to your local business type store like office depot, office max, best buy, etc and pick up a box of blank checks you can print from your home computer. if by chance the check scanner reads the special ink in checks, laser printers will do the trick (dif ink than ink jet) you would of course need an account# that is valid, not your own, and has money in it. also, you often dont need to show id at stores that have loyalty programs. they will scan your member card in lieu of writing your ssn or drivers license info down (you dont usually need to present your drivers license to get a membership card) ----by the way, generally check scanners only check to see if the account is in good standing- that is doesnt have any upaid nsfs reported and to ensure is a valid account- they do not generally report the sale info to the check verification company. the only log recorded if any should be that that account was verified. -----i in no way have such experience in any of this- i could be totally wrong, however the media does an excellent job of providing all kinds of interesting info. also, this stuff is plain wrong. also, who would be stupid enough to try to steal stuff using their own bank/credit accounts. duh.... that's like people who rob stores IN THEIR OWN HOMETOWN without masks and wonder why they get caught. ---all theft is wrong, but i truly believe that thieves that make dumbass mistakes should be locked up since they are obviously too dumb to be productive members of society anyway. it's the smart ones who sadden me because they actually have potential to do good things and they ruin it.
junkmail, Dec 21 2002

       Ever more frequently checks are electronically, and instantly, "cashed" at the register when they are scanned which would undo this scheme utterly. In fact, several times in the last year I have made a purchase by check only to have the check, complete with a cancellation stamp rendered at the checkout terminal, handed back to me as a receipt.   

       This practice is especially common at computer and electronics stores where, apparently, fraud runs high.
bristolz, Dec 21 2002

       Having coincidentally just made a small batch of nitrocellulose, I can assure you it would not pass for paper. It is in fact a plastic, and can be quite indistinguishable from petrolium polymers. However, if one were to mix the nitrocellulose with paper puplp, it would be easy to claim it was printed on special paper for security purposes, should anyone take notice.   

       In such a thin and unconfined form, nitrocellulose will not explode, but merely burn rapidly. With a high speed of deflagration, there is a good chance it won't be able to enflame the other customer's cheques.
Aq_Bi, Aug 17 2005


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