The Making of a Fugitive – Episode Three
So here we are. Fired from one job and prosecuted for hacking, I was now in the middle of another potential outrage, this one being much more serious. I have to say that I gave little thought to Melancthe in what followed. As far as I was concerned, she had placed me in a very difficult situation. What had seemed like generosity and a spot of innocent rule-flouting to get me a job had evolved into a plot to involve me in some serious felony. According to Melancthe’s frenzied outpourings, I had turned out to be the answer to a prolonged attempt to penetrate The Lyonesse Bank’s systems.
By the morning, I knew what I had to do. I had to stop it all right here. It wasn’t too late. Unfortunately, the Bank would not be able to deal sensibly with this kind of threat. Their own security would be uppermost in their minds, and they’d be keen for the story not to get out. There have been innumerable bank frauds that never saw the light of day, for fear that customers would lose confidence. The Bank, I was certain, would do very little other than hold an internal investigation. I would lose out again, and probably never again work in computing. The only solution was to go to the police, presenting myself as the hero of the hour, and tell them everything.
This proved easier than I expected. The police unit in charge of my previous case was easily contactable. I called in sick to the Bank and spilled the beans to the police the same day. At first, they didn’t believe me. I had no proof, after all. Once they began to believe me, they had this brilliant idea. Melancthe and I should continue with the deception, drag it out as long as we could, the police would make it all right with the Bank, and we should find out as much as possible about the gang, and get as much proof as possible, so they could be arrested and charged. And once again I was totally trapped. I couldn’t persuade them it was a really dumb idea. At least Melancthe wasn’t thrown to the dogs by this plan, and we kept our jobs for the time being. Further, we were promised (separate) witness protection programmes afterwards. Oh, yes.
Well, you’ve seen it on television. Intrepid computing wizard and karate champion cracks a few passwords and saves civilisation as we know it. It wasn’t quite like that. We were being pressed by Shimrod, and his boss, whom we met secretly. We collected the gang’s names and email addresses and car number plates and other trivia. We spun it out as long as we could. We kept inventing reasons why the security at the bank was so hard to penetrate. For a while I kept them happy by allowing them external access to an artificial mock-up system that gave them the illusion that they were making progress. In a way, I was helped by the fact that my widowed mother died in the middle of it all, so that I had an excuse for weeks of funeral arrangements, lawyers, probate, grieving aunts and uncles wondering about the will.
By the end of three nightmare months, I had made very little progress for the police. We knew Shimrod and we had met his boss. We had email addresses for several co-conspirators based in various European countries – the men who would actually move and conceal the money. The strain of the deception got to us and Melancthe and I detested each other by the end.
Eventually, the trap was sprung. Only Shimrod was actually arrested. His boss disappeared. None of the foreign-based conspirators were found, as far as I know.
As a chief witness, I was spirited away to sunny Glasgow for my own protection, where they had obtained a job of mind-numbing monotony for me. Data checking. Great. Melancthe went elsewhere, I don’t know where. We were to be concealed until the trial began.
The caper was obviously much more complicated than that, and some day I may write a book, but right now I can barely bring myself to think about it. I never had much faith in these witness protection programmes, but it was a bit of a shock just a fortnight later to see Melancthe’s face all over the television news as the victim of a mysterious murder in a public park in York. You probably remember it. (Note: I have cut and pasted the news page in that link. You won’t be able to find the original)