General Question

luigirovatti's avatar

Is it possible to create a program that shaves a few fractions of a cent every major financial transaction, and at the same time it moves the money into a digital currency?

Asked by luigirovatti (2820points) March 20th, 2020

As we probably all know by now, encrypted digital currency operates independently of central banks or government control by definition.

Source: Capstone Conspiracy by Brandt Legg (trilogy in boxset)

P.S. I know it sounds ridicolous, but the reviews made note of the books’ almost “realistic” fiction, let’s say.

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6 Answers

Smashley's avatar

With the number of AIs and other computers involved in financial markets, I find it very hard to believe that a straight skim of any sort could go undetected. Investors live and die by the fractions of a penny.

Zaku's avatar

It’s been a known potential theft approach in banking for at least 40 years, so yes it is theoretically possible, but it’s also a routine thing to prevent and detect, so the chances of getting away with it on a large scale seems very small unless you have some specific angle on inside advantage.

The people with the knowledge, desire, resources and connections to do this tend to instead focus their efforts on the legitimized robberies, such as the “stores” that take a 30% cut off transactions (e.g. Apple Store, Play Store, Steam), or credit card transaction fees, etc etc.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Yes. Like the computer hacker from Superman 3. He took the half cents from every transaction.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Superman III and Office Space were movies about just that shaving.

In Superman III, this particular scam takes shape when Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) receives his first paycheck for $143.80, and a colleague tells him that his paycheck probably includes a half-cent extra due to taxes and other calculations. Because Gus is an inexplicable computer genius, he writes a program for the company’s computer system to gather up all of these fractions of a cent for him, which results as a bonus check for $85,789.90 at the end of the week. Of course, the company’s accountants immediately notice the sudden loss of funds and finger Gus the next day when he nonchalantly drives his new Ferrari to work.

This plot point was later borrowed for Mike Judge’s film Office Space, where the programmers write a virus that essentially does the same thing. Their hope is that their indiscretion would be hidden in the Y2K panic that was happening at the time, but like Gus’s check, it was too large to ignore. Other films like Entrapment, I Love You Phillip Morris, and Hackers feature similar iterations of this plot device.

The general concept of illegally skimming off the top goes back decades, and it is colloquially called “salami slicing” (which sounds way dirtier than it really is). This term alludes to trimming off a bit of a salami so small that it goes unnoticed, and the entire salami can then be sold as a whole. In the bigger picture, salami slicing can be used for any practice that involves the use of acquiring small parts of a whole, whether it be border disputes with China or information security gleaned from the equally dirty-sounding “salami attack.”

Darth_Algar's avatar

It’s possible, but you might get sent to a federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison.

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