It is well known that Newtonian philosophers such as Johan T. Desaguliers defined their authority in contradistinction to the ‘projector’, a promoter of allegedly impractical and fraudulent schemes. Partly due to the lack of evidence, however, we know relatively little about these eighteenth-century projectors, especially those operating outside learned networks without claims to gentility, disinterest or theoretical sophistication. This paper begins to remedy this lacuna through the case of a ‘chymical’ projector, Moses Stringer (fl. 1693–1714). Instead of aspiring to respectability, this London chymist survived by vigorously promoting new projects, thereby accelerating, rather than attenuating, the course of action that rendered him dubious in the first place. The article follows his (often abortive) exploitation of medicine, metals and empire, and thereby illuminates the shady end of the enlightened world of public science.