Fraudpocalypse: Chapter Seven
CHAPTER SEVEN: THE DEPARTMENT OF ANTI-FRAUD TECHNOLOGIES (DAFT)
Walking quickly from the old fraud fighters place, they got into the government SUV.
“Where is DAFT located?” questioned James to Bonhoeffer.
“I’ll need to call Conner for specifics, but I think it is only a few hours away.”
“And you said we can trust Conner?”
“Yes, he was the one who brought me into this. Others in my family have vouched for him.” She picked up her phone and made the call.
Two hours later they pulled up to a large office building. They had arrived at DAFT. Special Agent Neal Conner and Agent John Underling were there to meet them.
“We don’t have much time,” said Tess to Neal. “Dr. James wants to see the operation to figure out what went wrong and who is behind this. That is our only hope. Here, look at the Fraudometer. It is at 96%!”
“Hurry, both of you! This way!” exclaimed Conner. The three of them started off. “Underling, aren’t you coming.”
“I’ll be there in a minute.” He was on his phone again. “Just got to send this wire out. I found a great investment deal on some gold nuggets from Africa. They even threw in some free Crypto!”
“Someone take his phone,” said Tess. “John, that is a scam. Don’t hit…”
“Sent!” Underling retorted. “They told me that others would say it was a scam. Jealously. That $50,000 will grow to $100,000 in a matter of days.” The agent looked back and forth to the other three. Clearly they weren’t jealous. James turned to Conner to indicate he wished to continue. Underling, realizing his mistake fell to the ground and cried dramatically.
“John, there is a juice box in the breakroom. Go get it, calm yourself, and call your bank. Seriously though, how did you ever work for DAFT?” With that, Conner ushered the other two to walk away from the scammy mess who was John Underling.
They entered an elevator from the lobby and Conner selected the 9th floor. No sooner than they started moving, Conner began coughing uncontrollably. James and Bonhoeffer had him sit down as the elevator elevated to the floor. Once the doors opened, they found a water cooler and poured some cool liquid for the man to drink. Within a few minutes, he had regained partial strength, but still looked worn.
“I’ve never felt that before. I’m rarely out of breath and I don’t have a cold or allergies. What is going on?” The beep sounded.
“We are at 97%,” said Tess. “This must be what the end is like. We don’t have long.”
“Neal, I need to talk to whoever oversees the DAFT operation. Who would that be?” Monty’s voice was urgent, he pace fast.
“Bob is your guy. He knows it all.”
“He’s in charge?”
“He’s it.” Conner, who had been sitting down, stood up with renewed vigor and led the others towards and office. As they walked by cubicles, James found it odd that none of them contained people. It was now a Wednesday afternoon; there should have been people in the seats. He looked past the cubicles to the perimeter of the building. Ancient mainframe computers were side by side. No tapes were running; the computers were silent.
“Where are all the people?” questioned Tess who was thinking along the same line as Monty. “Is this floor only for one person?”
“Completely automated! Bob manages the programs to stop the fraud.”
“Wait, so when you say Bob’s it, you mean he is the only one?”
“No no no, that would be absurd. Deb is his back up.”
“You have two people running anti-fraud measures for the whole nation? It is stupid…no wonder it is called DAFT.”
“Some have said that,” said Conner. “But just speak to Bob. He will put all of your fears to rest." By that point they had reached Bob’s office door. Conner knocked quickly but didn’t wait for an answer, opening the door. They walked into an office with a few more mainframes, filing cabinets, and an old desktop computer on desk. In front of the computer with an empty chair. And stuck on an empty chair was a note that said, “Gone Fishing -Bob.”
“Strange,” commented SA Conner. “I didn’t know Bob liked to go fishing.”
“What?!” shouted James. “You have two people running everything and one just goes fishing? How long has he been gone? There are cobwebs on his chair.” It indicated that Bob had been away from his desk for quite some time. James looked at Bonhoeffer, who appeared uneasy. The coming of a coughing fit started on James, but he held it back. In a few minutes or hours we will cease to be, he thought. There was solace in that, no more crime of fraud. Still, it would have been nice to have fought against it better. He resolved, however, to fight as long as possible. Even if they could get the Fraudometer down by a little bit, it might give them enough time.
“We need to see Deb,” Tess put forward. Conner agreed and they made their way up to the next floor. It was the same lay out on the 10th floor, desolate cubicles and antique mainframes. The G-man knocked on Deb’s door and entered just as he had done on Bobs. They found the same result. Deb’s chair was empty with a note on it that read, “Gone Fishing with Bob Forever -Deb.”
“Huh, I didn’t realize they were a couple…or that Deb liked fishing.”
“Is there anyone else?” James already knew the answer.
“Nope, that is it.” An alarm sounded. It was the Fraudometer, beeping to indicate their time was about up. It had reached 99%.
“Don’t you see?” asked James mournfully, weak as Fraudpocalypse started to come upon him. “You can’t stop fraud with just two people and outdated technology. You have to have people, technology, and processes to stop the crime. And it can’t be out of date. And it can’t focus on old schemes that the frauddies have moved on from. Fraud prevention has to keep evolving, always responding to the newest threats…but I guess that doesn’t matter now. We were too late.”
“I wish someone had told me that sooner,” commented an ailing Conner. “Maybe we wouldn’t have lost the forty quadrillion dollars. If I had to do it all over again, I would have made sure to put more into this department…and I should have fired Underling when I had the chance. Poor fellow keeps getting scammed…thank you Tess…thank you Harrison…you did your best.” Special Agent Neal Conner closed his eyes.
“Underling,” muttered Tess weakly. “It was Underling…” She passed out on the floor from the pain. James faded out too. All was dark. Suddenly, the three regained consciousness, became relaxed and the pain-free. Having fallen to the floor, they sat up. Tess picked up the Fraudometer and flipped it on. It was back to 95%.
“What happened?” wondered Conner. “I don’t understand.”
“Conner, it must have been you recognizing the reasons why the government was being defrauded. Tess, what did you say about Underling?”
“The last thing I remember thinking before passing out was Underling…I think Underling is the insider.”
“Him?” both Conner and James asked at the same time. At that moment the elevator opened down the hall and they saw Underling stumble out in a stupor. The junior agent trudged up to them, collapsed, and they rushed to him.