E Pluribus Mores

Codename Gumshoe

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2013 at 11:36 am

It began as a typical day.  Volume was up; but with the uptick in housing prices, you would expect a marginal increase in consumer confidence.  I had just finished with a routine job:

“I have some movement on the Assad account.  A $60 million sale to….  Oh, it’s just Sergei Shoigu in Moscow.  Looks like another batch of S-300’s.”

“Did he use paypal?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Run it.”

But if there is anything I have learned at this job, you can’t get comfortable.  It was just then Jones called me over.  He was white as a sheet:  “Sir, you better have a look at this.”  It took a couple seconds to take in what was on the screen.  That’s when I saw it:  “It’s the Bassler-Mortensen account.”  “I’ve never heard of it”, replied Jones.  I paused for a second, “Me, neither.  Any previous activity on the account?” Jones had already pulled the file, “About four months ago, a heart pendant.”  “One of those anatomically correct hearts in the little glass dome?”  “Yes, sir.”  “Those are pretty cool.”

The sale was for a laptop, but not just any laptop; it was a model G75VX gaming computer with 3d Gen Core 7 processor, 17.3” display, 1 TB hard drive, and backlit keyboard…with the extended warranty.  The order had been placed using a Dell Optiplex GX620.  The Optiplex had been popular in school libraries and penitentiary rec rooms about six years ago.  There could still be some in circulation.  There could be.  It could all be a coincidence. But I didn’t make Assistant Deputy Director of Fraud, Abuse, and Credit Card Scams by believing in coincidences.

“Jones, get the Deputy Director on the line.”  I lifted my hand to my ear and spoke into the Blue Tooth, “Charley, Nine-er, Nin-er, profile Happydaze, codename, Gumshoe.  It looks like we got a 10-100 in progress.  It’s the Bassler-Mortensen account.  No, I haven’t heard of them, either.  Yes, Ma’am.  I’ll take care of it.”

I leaned over to Jones, “Punch it, Chewie.”

Training, drills, an online business course at Phoenix University, nothing can prepare you for the real thing:  the flashing lights, the droning AHH-UUU-Gah of the alarm, the distant thud of copters.  I could see the men were tense.  Metcalf ran past me and through the open door of the Situation Room.  I could hear him moving from office to office down the hall, “It’s FrrrrrAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUD.”  “Rookies”, I said to myself.  Six months on the job, and they send them into the shit.  When this was over, me an HR are going to sit down and have a nice, long talk.

I addressed the staff.  “Look, men.  We have to keep it together.  We made it through the ’09 Berkawitz Ink Jet Printer Scam, we’ll make it through this one.  Jones, I want emails to the principles at seven minute intervals.  We need operators on every known contact. Set up an account freeze on all card numbers and secure the perimeter, 24 hour video surveillance.”  I shook two bee pollen capsules into my hand and swallowed them dry.  It was going to be a long night.

Four hours later not much had changed.  “Jones, status update,” I snapped irritably.  “No response on the 175 emails to Ms. Bassler.  We made preliminary contact on the land line, but he keeps hanging up on us.”  “Who do we have working the line?” I asked.   “Heather from Account Services, Inc.–one of our best.  Wait, I think we’ve got someone on line 4.  I’m patching it through to your office phone.”

I sat down at my desk, took some time to collect myself, a couple of deep breaths, then, “Mr. Mortensen, I’m glad we got a hold of you.  We have noticed some unusual activity on your account.”  You can’t count on customers being too bright, so I assumed my cheeriest voice and was careful to break it down for him using small words.  It took about twenty-five minutes, but it seemed like he finally understood the gravity of the situation.  At least, so I thought.  “So, I f**king bought something.  You have a problem with that?”, he responded.  “It’s just…there was…it was unusual activity”, I sputtered.  “Are you saying my wife can’t order a birthday present for our son Egon without you going all code red on us?”

In a flash it all became clear.  I covered the receiver and turned to the office members who had gathered expectantly around my desk, “The computer is for Egon”, I said with relief.  The Egon account.  Yea, we knew the Egon account: x-boxes, ipods, a flat screen T.V., stereo speakers, a box of 100 black bouncy balls—heck, he had his own ebay business last summer.  “Egon”, murmured Jones, “he’s a good kid.” “Yes, Mr. Mortensen, it all seems to have been a misunderstanding.  I’m sorry to have bothered you.  Yes, I understand…you will probably keep getting emails and calls for ten days or so, but you can disregard them.  We’ll take care of the freeze on the credit cards.  No need for that kind of language; I’m just doing my job, sir.”

And like that it was over.  The room was still tense, almost giddy.  I addressed the office, “We got lucky on that one.  But it’s not like credit card frauds are going snap selfies in the back seat of their car.  Get back to work!”  I turned to Jones, “That was some good work, son.”  I could look forward to a martini when I got home, sleep in my own bed.  Maybe I could score some Jersey Boys tickets on Broadway for the weekend.  Jones shook me out of my daydream, “Deputy Director, on line 3.”  I put my hand up to my ear.  “It turns out it was legit.  The computer was for Egon…yes, that Egon…evidently it was for his birthday.  Yes, Ma’am.  He is a good kid.”

  1. I have the best damn family in the world. Makes me almost wish this job weren’t so all-consuming that I could get home to spend time with them – almost. After all, you can’t be the Executive Director of a tiny, barely sentient non-profit and maintain a happy home life. I just ask that they send regular photos of themselves via Google Docs so I can remember what they look like.

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