National Post | News

In the lore of financial scams, “salami slicing” occupies a hallowed spot alongside the pyramid scheme and the Nigerian 419.

Also known as penny shaving, the ploy aims to collect tiny rounding errors over many transactions. Typically it is done in banks, over many different accounts. Sometimes it is illegal, other times merely clever, and in any case is rarely noticed.

As Canada eliminates the penny, and adds an obvious rounding error to every cash transaction, salami slicing has suddenly gained a new currency. Widely praised as a common-sense solution to the problem of a coin that costs more than it is worth, the end of the penny could also herald a new age of retail profiteering.

“If you are rounding correctly, then over a million transactions, the rounding doesn’t make any difference,” said Jeff Gore, an MIT physicist and leading American anti-penny campaigner. “Of course, you can think up…

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