I can’t …

… leave you hanging.

The Making of a Fugitive – Episode Two
Melancthe worked in the back office of a large commercial bank, in some clerical capacity. I shall refer to it as “The Bank of Lyonesse”. When she heard of my problems in getting another job, she suggested that it would be easy to get into The Lyonesse as a software engineer. “But,” I objected, “I don’t have any references.”

“Leave that to me,” she said, “Write me a true reference for yourself that describes your work and experience without mentioning your employer and I’ll see what I can do. I have contacts.” I did so.

A week later, Melancthe turned up with an application form for her bank, and gave me the name, address, email and telephone number of a referee – let us call him Shimrod – from another major bank. “Shimrod really exists. He’s a friend of mine.” Melancthe told me, “If you nominate him as one referee and they check with him, he will back up your experience. Nominate me as the second referee. It’s easy.”

It was easy. Within a month, I was a trusted member of The Lyonesse’s Wholesale Finance Division, Computing Department. I was deeply grateful to Melancthe, and showed it, so that when she phoned me up one evening I was honour bound to help her. “I’m stuck at work here,” she said, “And my password has stopped working – I think I screwed it up when I changed it this morning. Could you lend me yours so I can get this done? I need to fix this and I don’t want to call in my boss.” I am not a total idiot. I knew this was a rash thing to do, but why should I suspect Melancthe when she’d helped me so much?. I gave her the id and password – a password that was much more powerful than Melancthe’s own, giving access to the deepest recesses of the bank’s servers, and first thing next morning, I changed it. I did more than just change the password. I traced as much as I could of what she had done the previous night, and, you’ve guessed it, sitting in the centre of the bank’s trusted systems was a keystroke logger. Definition for the morbidly curious here.

The article may give you a clue about the possible uses of key loggers.

I did not hesitate. I disabled the logger. Then I wondered who to tell. I wasn’t exactly in a strong position here, as the accomplice of the criminal, a criminal I had used as a referee, who had also arranged another false reference. What’s more, I was a convicted “hacker”. I was pretty sure that if I told the bank, they’d fire me and suppress the whole thing, and then I’d never get another job. So I told no-one. And I didn’t talk to Melancthe.

Of course, I knew Melancthe would know I’d killed her logger, and I really didn’t know how she’d react. I thought she herself was sufficiently vulnerable to be very cautious in pressing the matter. She’d had a go, I’d foiled her. End of story. Stalemate. And no more cosy Pacman sessions together, either.

She arrived at my flat at half past six, hysterical with fear and screaming that I had to help her. The criminal gang she was working for were making threats. She was as good as dead if the logger didn’t work. What did we care if the bank was robbed? Anyway, when it was over we’d both be so rich we could disappear and live a new life together. I couldn’t talk sense to her. She fell asleep still sobbing and begging and I made reassuring noises.

But that is not why I’m a fugitive. The robbery never took place.

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