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Tags pen , detection , money , counterfeit

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Old 6th June 2003, 05:43 AM   #1
xouper
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Counterfeit Money Detection Pen?

Has anyone in the U.S. actually sprayed some starch on a large bill to see how the cashier reacts when they use the "yellow pen" on it? Were you delayed getting home? I've always been tempted to try this, but I'm concerned about the possible hassle and loss of a legitimate bill. What are the legal implications of playing such a prank on users of the "yellow pen"?
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Old 6th June 2003, 05:48 AM   #2
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None...

How can they prove you actually knew...

DB
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Old 6th June 2003, 05:59 AM   #3
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I'm happy to say that I haven't seen any of those pens in quite a while.

I used to live in a town where some businesses used them. The staff at the local Arby's, for example, always tested paper currency with these pens. But it's been about four years since I've seen one in use.

Those who are really daring might be considering making a pad of bills (as described here), giving them a good starching, and trying to pass one of them at a place that uses the pen. if you do this, you'll be waving two "red flags" about the legitimacy of the currency, and the recipient is less likely to be swayed by your assurances that the currency is genuine. You might also have to explain yourself to various governmental officials.
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Old 6th June 2003, 06:05 AM   #4
xouper
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Quote:
Brown: I'm happy to say that I haven't seen any of those pens in quite a while.
The grocery store near me uses the yellow pen on every $100 bill I spend there. Maybe it's just me.
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Old 6th June 2003, 06:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by xouper
The grocery store near me uses the yellow pen on every $100 bill I spend there. Maybe it's just me.
I think the safest trick is to starch the bills on the left side only. That way, if they are tempted to grab it and destroy it, you can ask them to try marking the other side.

Even more fun, get a small stencil made up that reads "This sh** doesn't work", spray over it. When they use the marker and call the bill suspect, have them mark all over the stenciled area until the message appears.

Cheers,
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Old 6th June 2003, 06:46 AM   #6
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Xouper- this is a bit off subject, I appreciate- I once saw someone change about 8000 Saudi Riyals for dollars at a money changer in Dharan. This was around $2320 at the time (1995).
Of the 23 $100 bills, three were fakes. (He picked them up by feel and the fact they had the same number). He returned them to the teller, who issued three replacements and put the duds back in his drawer.

Nothing to do with the pens, but be warned. The fakes ARE out there!
(These would be the old style treasury bills)
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Old 6th June 2003, 06:54 AM   #7
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he-he-he
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Old 6th June 2003, 06:55 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Soapy Sam
Xouper- this is a bit off subject, I appreciate- I once saw someone change about 8000 Saudi Riyals for dollars at a money changer in Dharan. This was around $2320 at the time (1995).
Of the 23 $100 bills, three were fakes. (He picked them up by feel and the fact they had the same number). He returned them to the teller, who issued three replacements and put the duds back in his drawer.

Nothing to do with the pens, but be warned. The fakes ARE out there!
(These would be the old style treasury bills)
Yes, the fakes are out there. They are far more prevalent outside the US than inside, however.

The pens are a stupid idea that never worked and wastes far too many resources for the potential harm averted.

I still see ignorant toads use these things at fast food places. It is a daily occurrence and a useless exercise.

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Old 6th June 2003, 07:01 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by AmateurScientist


I still see ignorant toads use these things at fast food places. It is a daily occurrence and a useless exercise.

AS
Yep. The local McDonald's here uses them. I keep telling them they don't do any good.
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Old 6th June 2003, 07:23 AM   #10
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I'm not sure that saying "they do no good" is entirely accurate. They probably offer some comfort to the user and offer some avoidance to some really dumb people that would otherwise attempt to pass off bogus bills. It might be compaired to the "lie detector" machines, they don't really work, but if you believe they do, you might confess your crimes.
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Old 6th June 2003, 07:32 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dr. Popalot
I'm not sure that saying "they do no good" is entirely accurate. They probably offer some comfort to the user and offer some avoidance to some really dumb people that would otherwise attempt to pass off bogus bills. It might be compaired to the "lie detector" machines, they don't really work, but if you believe they do, you might confess your crimes.
Hmmm.

Most counterfeiters do not use cheap paper. They attempt to get stock that mimics as closely as possible that the U.S. government buys from Crane. Any higher grade paper is not processed with starch, and therefore won't cause the iodine reaction. The Type I error rate, therefore, is extraordinarily high. Of course, we'ver just offered up several easy suggestions for raising the Type II error rate as well.

If the pens were used as a first step in a multi-step detection process, I might buy this argument. But they aren't. They are foolishly used in the wrongheaded belief that store owners can avoid training their cashiers.

Cheers,
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Old 6th June 2003, 07:39 AM   #12
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What is the base rate for counterfeit bills--1 in 1000?

Even this estimate is probably high.

But, the point is, when the base rate is that low, even if these pens are 99% accurate, they'd make lots more false alarms (claiming a real bill is fake) then they would hits (identifying a true conterfeit bill).
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Old 6th June 2003, 08:03 AM   #13
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Instead of spraying a large denomination bill, why not just spray a $1 bill and the next time a cashier uses one of those pens, whip out the sprayed $1 and show them how useless the pen is?
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Old 6th June 2003, 08:07 AM   #14
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It's silly. Refusing good cash is going to cost you much more than accepting the occational bad bill, especially as you're just going to pass the bill on to the bank, and the bank probably isn't going to notice, either.
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Old 6th June 2003, 08:10 AM   #15
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Originally posted by Michael Redman
It's silly. Refusing good cash is going to cost you much more than accepting the occational bad bill, especially as you're just going to pass the bill on to the bank, and the bank probably isn't going to notice, either.
Good point. Now that I think about it, banks have actually passed on counterfeit money to me. I think one gave me a Canadian quarter once.



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Old 6th June 2003, 08:15 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pepper's Ghost
Instead of spraying a large denomination bill, why not just spray a $1 bill and the next time a cashier uses one of those pens, whip out the sprayed $1 and show them how useless the pen is?
I don't think I've ever seen someone check a $1 bill.

Cheers,
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Old 6th June 2003, 08:32 AM   #17
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Re: Counterfeit Money Detection Pen?

Quote:
Originally posted by xouper
Has anyone in the U.S. actually sprayed some starch on a large bill to see how the cashier reacts when they use the "yellow pen" on it? Were you delayed getting home? I've always been tempted to try this, but I'm concerned about the possible hassle and loss of a legitimate bill. What are the legal implications of playing such a prank on users of the "yellow pen"?
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Old 6th June 2003, 08:35 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by BillHoyt

Hmmm.

Most counterfeiters do not use cheap paper. They attempt to get stock that mimics as closely as possible that the U.S. government buys from Crane. Any higher grade paper is not processed with starch, and therefore won't cause the iodine reaction. The Type I error rate, therefore, is extraordinarily high. Of course, we'ver just offered up several easy suggestions for raising the Type II error rate as well.

If the pens were used as a first step in a multi-step detection process, I might buy this argument. But they aren't. They are foolishly used in the wrongheaded belief that store owners can avoid training their cashiers.

Cheers,
I've said it before here, these pens are effective at keeping 'desktop counterfeitters' from scanning a buck, playing with it in Photoshop and printing out reams of dough. That's all they are good for, but that little bit 'o prevention goes a long way.

I don't understand the rancor against these pens, I put them in the 'ounce of prevention' category.
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Old 6th June 2003, 08:46 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by BillHoyt


I don't think I've ever seen someone check a $1 bill.

Cheers,
I'm not saying that they will, what I am saying is, when they check the large bill, also take out the doctored $1 and show them how useless the pen is. This way you can play the little "spray the bill with starch" trick and not risk losing $100.
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Old 6th June 2003, 08:50 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by kookbreaker


I've said it before here, these pens are effective at keeping 'desktop counterfeitters' from scanning a buck, playing with it in Photoshop and printing out reams of dough. That's all they are good for, but that little bit 'o prevention goes a long way.

I don't understand the rancor against these pens, I put them in the 'ounce of prevention' category.
But your argument resembles the "why not let them sell homeopathic medicine? It can't hurt. It may help." The Type I error is extraordinarily high. The desktop counterfeiters can figure out how to get higher-grade, starchless paper. C'mon! And, as I said, this isn't the first filter. It is the only safeguard used. They are substituted for use of far more reliable detection methods.

The consequence of getting it wrong is this: the one holding the bill when it is found loses that amount of money. Period. It is taken from you. Period. So the stores that don't train their people properly and rely on iodine simply set themselves up for losses.

Cheers,
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Old 6th June 2003, 08:52 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pepper's Ghost
I'm not saying that they will, what I am saying is, when they check the large bill, also take out the doctored $1 and show them how useless the pen is. This way you can play the little "spray the bill with starch" trick and not risk losing $100.
For what it's worth, I understood exactly what you meant.

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Old 6th June 2003, 08:55 AM   #22
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Quote:
Pepper's Ghost: I'm not saying that they will, what I am saying is, when they check the large bill, also take out the doctored $1 and show them how useless the pen is. This way you can play the little "spray the bill with starch" trick and not risk losing $100.
Has it been established that there is any risk of losing the $100 bill if I pull this prank? If the cashier decides to confiscate my legitmate $100 bill under the mistaken notion it is phony, do I have no recourse at all?
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Old 6th June 2003, 08:56 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by xouper
Has it been established that there is any risk of losing the $100 bill if I pull this prank? If the cashier decides to confiscate my legitmate $100 bill under the mistaken notion it is phony, do I have no recourse at all?
My official legal opinion is that possession is 9 tenths of the law.

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Old 6th June 2003, 08:57 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by BillHoyt


But your argument resembles the "why not let them sell homeopathic medicine? It can't hurt. It may help." The Type I error is extraordinarily high. The desktop counterfeiters can figure out how to get higher-grade, starchless paper. C'mon! And, as I said, this isn't the first filter. It is the only safeguard used. They are substituted for use of far more reliable detection methods.


No, first of all Homeopathy is completely useless. Whereas if little Jimmy has nothing to prevent him from using his cheap laserjet printer from making money, then the pen does come into play. Yes, desktop counterfeitters can use more expensive paper, but does that mean you have to discard the first line of defense?

Do you think, "Gee, I guess I won't bother to lock my door, becuase somebody can just break a window!". Does that make sense?

Quote:
The consequence of getting it wrong is this: the one holding the bill when it is found loses that amount of money. Period. It is taken from you. Period. So the stores that don't train their people properly and rely on iodine simply set themselves up for losses.
You've never worked retail, have you?
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Old 6th June 2003, 09:09 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by xouper
Has it been established that there is any risk of losing the $100 bill if I pull this prank? If the cashier decides to confiscate my legitmate $100 bill under the mistaken notion it is phony, do I have no recourse at all?
Why take the chance? There is no telling what people are capable of, I'd rather lose $1 than $100.
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Old 6th June 2003, 09:30 AM   #26
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Originally posted by kookbreaker
No, first of all Homeopathy is completely useless. Whereas if little Jimmy has nothing to prevent him from using his cheap laserjet printer from making money, then the pen does come into play. Yes, desktop counterfeitters can use more expensive paper, but does that mean you have to discard the first line of defense?

Do you think, "Gee, I guess I won't bother to lock my door, becuase somebody can just break a window!". Does that make sense?

You've never worked retail, have you?
As of the year 2000, the U.S. Secret Service estimated 45% of counterfeits were desktop counterfeits. If we assume all used starched papers, that means the pen's Type I error rate is 55%! The error climbs as we realize there are many starch-free 100% rag papers that can be used with computer printers. I can't yet find an estimate for how many desktop counterfeits use this paper.

Your first-line-of-defense argument evaporates, though, by watching the cashiers. If it passes the pen test, into the cash drawer it goes. There isn't an iota of effort to use any of the far more effective security measures (metallic ink, actually examining the print quality, the holographic and color-changing inks). This is clearly not the "first" line of defense. This is the only line! And we know from the Secret Service that it has, at a minimum a 55% failure rate.

Cheers,
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Old 6th June 2003, 10:16 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally posted by BillHoyt

As of the year 2000, the U.S. Secret Service estimated 45% of counterfeits were desktop counterfeits. If we assume all used starched papers, that means the pen's Type I error rate is 55%! The error climbs as we realize there are many starch-free 100% rag papers that can be used with computer printers. I can't yet find an estimate for how many desktop counterfeits use this paper.
That 45% figure would be even higher if there was no use of pens. The pens act to discourage, same as locking your door. Yes it won't stop someone with determination, but it does prevent a lot of 12 year old Jimmy Inkstains from starting to make his own money. The pen assures that at least the laziest counterfietters can't make easy money. The more effort and knowledge needed to make better DT money, the harder it becomes. After all, just becuase you know bout the availability of starch-free paper, doesn't mean that young Johnny Inkstains knows about it. He can learn easily enough, sure, but its another barrier.

Quote:
Your first-line-of-defense argument evaporates, though, by watching the cashiers. If it passes the pen test, into the cash drawer it goes. There isn't an iota of effort to use any of the far more effective security measures (metallic ink, actually examining the print quality, the holographic and color-changing inks). This is clearly not the "first" line of defense. This is the only line! And we know from the Secret Service that it has, at a minimum a 55% failure rate.
Cheers, [/b]
I'll ask again, have you ever worked a cash register?
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Old 6th June 2003, 10:23 AM   #28
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I wonder why no one uses the other method of testing current US bills, UV light. My understanding is that the nylon upnoting strip glows different colors under a UV lamp. I don't recall what they are, but that should be easy enough to check out. It would be trivial to use something like a Burton lamp (a pair of UV sources with a magnifying glass you look through) to check bills, and it could be done quickly. If there isn't an upnoting strip, you don't take the bill. And if the strip doesn't match the denomination, you don't take it.

If you design a tool like that well, to minimize exposure to the cashier, then you'd have a quick way to detect them.
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Old 6th June 2003, 10:23 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally posted by kookbreaker
That 45% figure would be even higher if there was no use of pens. The pens act to discourage, same as locking your door. Yes it won't stop someone with determination, but it does prevent a lot of 12 year old Jimmy Inkstains from starting to make his own money. The pen assures that at least the laziest counterfietters can't make easy money. The more effort and knowledge needed to make better DT money, the harder it becomes. After all, just becuase you know bout the availability of starch-free paper, doesn't mean that young Johnny Inkstains knows about it. He can learn easily enough, sure, but its another barrier.
False dichotomy, kookbreaker. You assume the alternatives are pen or no pen. Counterfeit detection training would be far more effective. Desktop counterfeits are easily identified by inspection.

Quote:
I'll ask again, have you ever worked a cash register?
Yes. What of it? I trust you weren't going for an argument from authority.
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Old 6th June 2003, 10:32 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally posted by xouper
Has it been established that there is any risk of losing the $100 bill if I pull this prank? If the cashier decides to confiscate my legitmate $100 bill under the mistaken notion it is phony, do I have no recourse at all?
If some cashier decided to confiscate the bill, they had better be prepared to involve law enforcement. Cop comes out, holds the bill up to the light, sees the security thread, sees the watermark, checks and verifies color-changing ink, hands you your bill, and tells the cashier not to rely solely on that stupid pen. You're exonerated on the spot. Case closed.

So, if you want to try this trick, make sure you're not in a hurry.

I'll bet cops just love these pens.
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Old 6th June 2003, 10:35 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally posted by BillHoyt

False dichotomy, kookbreaker. You assume the alternatives are pen or no pen. Counterfeit detection training would be far more effective. Desktop counterfeits are easily identified by inspection.


Where the heck have made such a dichotomy, I am pointing out that that pens are hardly as worthless as folks seem determined to make them.

I really don't appreciate being accused of making a false dichotomy when I have not done so. Yes, other methods would be better, but they involve training and supervision to maintain. A pen is far, far from perfect, but sometimes it is all you can get your employees to do.

I'd appreciate a retraction.

Quote:
Yes. What of it? I trust you weren't going for an argument from authority.
No, I'm going to point out that these 'easy' methods of detecting counterfieters sound fine on the drawing board, and are unworkable at the cash register. Particularly a high volume register.
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Old 6th June 2003, 10:37 AM   #32
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How well does a desktop laser printer replicate the effect of the dual-colored numbers on bills? You know how the 20 looks green when you hold it one way, and black when you angle it.

There are all kinds of visual aids on the new bills. Seems the old eyeball would be a better detector than a pen.
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Old 6th June 2003, 10:45 AM   #33
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How well does a desktop laser printer replicate the effect of the dual-colored numbers on bills? You know how the 20 looks green when you hold it one way, and black when you angle it.
It wouldn't. But you'd be amazed at what is passed off as countierfiet money. Little details like that aren't always a requirement.

Quote:
There are all kinds of visual aids on the new bills. Seems the old eyeball would be a better detector than a pen. [/b]
Sure it would. And you get to deal with the irate customers who are already offended by the use of the pen are now undergoing an angled inspection. Then the customer behind him is already getting impatient...
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Old 6th June 2003, 10:46 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally posted by kookbreaker


Sure it would. And you get to deal with the irate customers who are already offended by the use of the pen are now undergoing an angled inspection. Then the customer behind him is already getting impatient...
If I were a counterfeiter, I would just make sure all my counterfeit bills already had a conterfeit detector pen streak already printed on them....
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Old 6th June 2003, 10:51 AM   #35
AmateurScientist
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Quote:
Originally posted by Luke T.


If I were a counterfeiter, I would just make sure all my counterfeit bills already had a conterfeit detector pen streak already printed on them....
Luke,

You are quite the clever criminal.

Hmmmm......


AS
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Old 6th June 2003, 10:54 AM   #36
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Quote:
Originally posted by AmateurScientist


Luke,

You are quite the clever criminal.

Hmmmm......


AS
Can you imagine what would happen if we formed an organized criminal enterprise comprised of JREFers?

World domination!
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Old 6th June 2003, 10:58 AM   #37
Mr. Skinny
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Quote:
Originally posted by Luke T.


If I were a counterfeiter, I would just make sure all my counterfeit bills already had a conterfeit detector pen streak already printed on them....
Wait a minute........maybe I don't understand how these pens work, but doesn't the streak show up only if the bill is counterfeit?
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Old 6th June 2003, 11:00 AM   #38
Luke T.
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Skinny

Wait a minute........maybe I don't understand how these pens work, but doesn't the streak show up only if the bill is counterfeit?
I think they make a yellow streak if the bill is "good," and a black streak if the bill is "bad."
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Old 6th June 2003, 11:00 AM   #39
BillHoyt
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Quote:
Originally posted by kookbreaker
Where the heck have made such a dichotomy, I am pointing out that that pens are hardly as worthless as folks seem determined to make them.

I really don't appreciate being accused of making a false dichotomy when I have not done so. Yes, other methods would be better, but they involve training and supervision to maintain. A pen is far, far from perfect, but sometimes it is all you can get your employees to do.

I'd appreciate a retraction.
I'll try to make it clearer. Your argument rests on the pen's ease of use (vs. training) and its ability (at no better than 55% level) to detect certain bad bills. You've also described it as a first line of defense.

But there is no second line of defense. The pen is the only line. And metallic ink detectors are readily available, easy to use, and cost under $50. (The pens cost $5). These work just as quickly as the pens.

I don't see that you've looked at the stats or really considered the alternatives. And I still await an explanation of "first line of defense" when there is no second line!

Cheers,
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Old 6th June 2003, 11:00 AM   #40
AmateurScientist
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Skinny

Wait a minute........maybe I don't understand how these pens work, but doesn't the streak show up only if the bill is counterfeit?
Well, no, not if you have it pre-printed on there, Skinny.

Jeez, get with the program.



I think Luke's idea is to trick them into not testing the bill because they would believe that it's already been tested.

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