(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Copyright© 2017 Angharad
It’s funny that I can read through a page of text and mistakes, spelling or other trypos leap out at me. I can look at a spreadsheet all day and not see what may be blindingly obvious to someone else. Okay, so we all have our strengths and weaknesses, but at this moment, I’d happily have swapped my literary skill for a mathematical one. I’d spent hours poring over spreadsheets and other lists of figures. Some sort of answer had to be there but could I see it? No I could not.
The police had sent in a forensic accountant and I left him looking at the books in the accounts department. It was explained to me that I couldn’t be the fraudster as everything I did was documented accurately but that someone had accessed our system and helped themselves to seven figures of dosh. Why no one had picked up on it until now was a separate question and one which we’d be trying to devise a system to answer or prevent needing to be asked in the future.
Tom invited me to go to dinner and as it seemed easier than sitting looking at computer screens, I accepted. We went to the usual place and had our usual fare, Tom his curry and me a tuna jacket. One day I’ll order the matching trousers and surprise everyone.
While we were waiting for the meal to arrive Simon called my mobile. Tom told me to take it and he went off to the bar to organise some drinks—a lime and soda in my case—I wanted to stay awake and besides I was driving. I explained about the fraud issue and lamented my inability to spot problems in spreadsheets and he told me to speak to Sammi. “She does it all the time and may even have some of her customised software which will find it for you.” By the time Tom returned I was on the phone to my daughter.
Since she had once remotely entered my computer, she could apparently do it again and providing I’d loaded the relevant accounts, she could upload them and run her software. She wasn’t promising anything but she’d be happy to help if she could. I wasn’t sure what to tell Tom, because what we were doing was technically illegal, though he knew something was up so I told him.
“If we say, thae bank is assisting us wi’ specialised skills, I dinnae see a problem.” I’m not sure if I ate my lunch feeling easier or even more stressed. But an hour later, without telling the forensic accountant what we were doing, I let Sammi into my computer and she uploaded the data she needed to use her program. I continued staring at the various screens, played and lost two games of spider, and drank enough tea to keep me running back and fore to the toilet.
About ninety minutes later my computer dinged and I had an email from Sammi asking me to call her. I did so immediately.
She told me the page where the problem was and that it had been overwritten to disguise the theft. She also told me she’d found that in a few minutes but she’d been trying to trace the location of the thief—would I believe Argentina? Seeing as I can believe six impossible things before breakfast, Argentina was no big problem—except we’d never get the money back from there.
“That isn’t necessarily the case,” she explained.
“But we have no extradition treaty with them.”
“Ah, that’s if you go by the legal route...”
“Meaning what exactly?”
“Well, I know who he is and where his bank accounts are—I’m also accessing them as we speak and he has enough in one of them to cover the deficiency he caused, so I’ve just recalled the money back to your account.”
“What if he does the same thing to you that you just did to him?”
“I’ll be very surprised.”
“But he could, couldn’t he?”
“Only if he knew more about computers than I do, my tracks are covered and he won’t even be aware he’s been stung until tomorrow. I’m updating your security, I’ve spoken to Gramps and he’s willing to do a contract with us to give you cyber security on your financial systems, which we can offer as a financial institution. You’d better tell your accountant chappie to call me and I’ll give him a version of the truth that will satisfy him and show him the money has been restored to your account and your security upgraded.”
“Are you sure it’s all okay and you’re not at risk?” I felt quite sick for a moment.
“Look, Mummy, I help them do this sort of stuff at GCHQ and most of the time they don’t have a clue what I’m on about. So I think I’ll be okay.”
“You haven’t been working on the Trump stuff, have you?”
“I can’t answer that, Mummy, official secrets act and all that. Tell the accountant to call me.”
“Thank you so much, sweetheart.”
“’S okay, byeee.”
I went over to the accounts department and explained what I’d done.
“That is somewhat irregular without speaking to me first, how do we know you didn’t embezzle it in the first place and return it after you were found out?”
“Mr Northcote, I don’t need any money, I’m married to a bank and am moderately wealthy in my own standing. I can also assure you I haven’t got the skills to do what was required, however, the bank does and has not only discovered how the fraud was done but also managed to recover the money which was apparently in a holding account of the same person in Argentina. Here speak to the bank and ask for Sammi, the head of cyber security.”
“Sammi Cameron, this is looking increasingly like a fraud by you and your family, Lady Cameron.”
“I think she’ll show you it isn’t. I’m going back to my office so you know where to find me if you need me. She’s brilliant with computers.”
“So would the thief, Lady Cameron.”
“If she’d taken the money, she’d have cleaned out the lot and you’d never find it or her.”
“I don’t know, the government and its security services are pretty clever too, they’d find her.”
“As she teaches them, I doubt it, good day, Mr Northcote.”
I’d just returned from another reduction in bladder pressure when my door was knocked and Northcote entered. “She is pretty good, isn’t she?”
“My daughter is a genius with computers,” I didn’t tell him I had another two at home who were pretty clever too.
“I understand how it was done and how she recovered the money. I’ll make a report suggesting that as the perpetrator is in a non-extradition country we would probably make little progress in securing a conviction, so I suggest we just put this one down to experience and as your security systems are being upgraded as we speak, sufficient action is being taken, so we need to carry out no further action ourselves.”
“Thank you, Mr Northcote, for your assistance which has been invaluable.”
“I try to help,” he said puffing out his chest, reminding me of a robin—the garden bird, Erithacus rubecula.
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