Episode 3: Inside Job

Our new series of thrillers – produced and directed by CustomerXPs and Banking Technology – narrate the tales of the fight between the forces of good (the Clari5 analytics and anti-fraud software) and the forces of evil. Based on real events and guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat!

May of the current year.

Her addiction was getting the better of her. “Absolutely Irresistible”, the new fragrance from Givenchy, was calling out to her. And those gorgeous Prada shoes had been winking at her from the shop front for the last three weeks.

“Man, I could kill for those.” “It’s been a while; I really need to find the dosh.” 

Georgina bit her lower lip with these thoughts swirling in her head like the steam from her coffee. She looked at the accounts’ list. Could she get a hold of one “dormant” account?

“Can Lady Luck please be kind? Am desperate, please!”

“Hey Georgina, how’s it going? Getting used to retail banking?”

“Hi Mark. Yeah, it’s different from corporate banking for sure. I miss the thrill of big numbers. That rush of working with millions instead of thousands. Ha ha ha.” 

“Hmm. So no new Gucci bag or a Marc Jacobs watch? The shops must be crying out for Your Shopaholic Majesty to give them time of day.”

“Mmm….yes, it’s been a while. Thanks for reminding me, must rectify that soon. He he.” 

Mark shrugs, gives a wry smile, a quizzical look and walks away.

She paused mid-way while taking a huge bite from her BLT sandwich. Her eyes widened. The $25,000 winked at her seductively. Money was her one and only love, her manna. She quickly hit her keyboard. Joshua Hamilton, checking account, “dormant”.

Was this her lucky day or what?

Georgina pushed her sandwich aside and quickly hit a few keys. “Active” flashed on her monitor. Joshua Hamilton was now “active”.

“Gucci, Prada, Jimmy Choo, here I come… yoo hoo!” Georgina thought to herself. A wicked smile, a faraway look and Georgina was revelling in the idea of big numbers. Her heart was thumping with excitement.

“It’s going to happen. Finally. I can sleep at night and don’t need any Xanax.”

Clari5 was rifling through the list of accounts doing its customary check. Sorting accounts by status, keeping a watchful eye on transactions by account holders and being its usual Poirot self – generally keeping an eagle eye on the safety and security of data, accounts, transactions and more.

Next, next, next, next, pause! Joshua Hamilton – active. Wait, hang on. Clari5 does an about take. Pause.

Quick flashback to April last year.

Joshua Hamilton was thrilled with life. It seemed to be going as per plan. New job, new city, new role, new life. Whoa!

He had to wind up his life in New York. Give up his apartment, sell his car, get rid of the furniture, among other things. But he decided to retain his bank account. Maybe it was for sentimental reasons, maybe it was just the idea of having monies in an account which he could use during emergencies, he didn’t close the account. He had $25,000 in that account. It felt good to have that kind of money.

His new firm thought it’d be ideal if Joshua opened a salary account with the bank they banked with. Apparently this bank had fantastic services – great paybacks on savings and good customer service as a local bank. Joshua thought why not, and opened a salary account with this new bank.

The $25,000 in his NY bank grew a little more, with interest etc. Zero transactions, zero withdrawals, zero anything. It was “dormant” but doing good.

Cut to present day.

Eyes follow her slow, shamefaced, hand-touching-chin movement out of the office as colleagues stare. Cops behind, cops in front. Her mascara is runny and covers her cheeks like ski tracks on Aspen.

Georgina bites her lips in regret. If only Clari5 hadn’t sounded the alarm, if only it wasn’t so darned smart, if only it didn’t keep track of every financial and non-financial transaction, she’d be wearing her Guccis today and looking like a million bucks. Even Xanax or Prozac wouldn’t be able to help her now, not in a prison cell for sure.

Damn Clari5!

When Joshua Hamilton’s “dormant” account status became “active”, it was instantly marked as suspect, when for over a year there were no transactions on his account.

When Georgina initiated a $10,000 encashment on this account using a withdrawal receipt forged with Joshua’s signature, Clari5’s real-time decisioning engine noted this.

The potential fraud transaction was blocked and generated an alert in the case management system.

And a case of deceit and willful defraudment is slapped on Georgina.

Episode 1: Malafide Intentions​

Our new series of thrillers – produced and directed by CustomerXPs and Banking Technology – narrate the tales of the fight between the forces of good (the Clari5 analytics and anti-fraud software) and the forces of evil. Based on real events and guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat!

The alert flashes on the dark screen. His cat nap is disturbed by the “on/off” flashing on the monitor which causes his eyelids to flutter open. He looks at the array of numbers and text that appear to be just a vast, random set of data, for the lay person. But Oliver’s trained eye and keen mind are attuned to pick out anomalies from this data load. Oliver wasn’t called Hawk by his colleagues, the keenest, sharpest AFO (anti-fraud officer) at the Bank of Sentee (BoS) for nothing.

Oliver’s eyes rapidly scan through Michael Hook’s transaction history.

POS 12.30 pm SF, 22.07.16, Starbks
POS 16.30 pm SF, 22.07.16, Movtkts
POS 19.30 pm SF, 22.07.16, Metreon
POS 20.20 pm ABJ, 22.07.16, Fouani Electronics
 – there it was, popping out at him like a girl in a magenta halter in a room full of black tuxedos! Oliver quickly runs a check for country codes and finds ABJ is Abuja, Nigeria.

Oliver’s fingers flew over the keyboard and his eyes scanned through Michael Hook’s transaction history for the past seven days. Come on Clari5, he urged. Clari5, Oliver’s best friend, obliged. Michael Hook’s transactions seemed fine, no anomaly, no suspicious activity. So then what explained Nigeria?

Could Michael, a regular graphic designer, travel from San Francisco to Nigeria, a distance of over 7700 miles in 50 minutes? He ain’t no Superman!

12.30 pm, 22.07.2016, Starbucks, 3595 California Street, San Francisco

“Good afternoon sir, can I take your order?”

“Hi. Mmm… I’ll have a chicken BLT sandwich and a decaf Pike Place coffee, please.”

“Sure. What name shall I add to the order?”

“Michael Hook.”

“Have a seat and we’ll call out your name. Have a good day.”

Michael looked at his Fitbit. 12.33 pm. God! “Is it stuck or is it me?” he wondered. He looked thoughtful as he sat down, his mind unspooling the conversation he had with Jessica in the morning. Sigh! He swiped through his messages. “4.30 show, don’t forget, J.” Her curt response: “Yup.”

He’s got to make it up to her, he loves her too much to lose her. Thoughts swirled in his head like the steam from the coffee mug. Should he buy her something before the movie? A ring? Would she accept?

“Can I afford to get married?”

Technology is a savior. Michael checked his bank account on his smartphone. $10,578. He had the dosh. He felt a sliver of excitement welling up inside of him. Yes, maybe he would surprise Jessica after all. 

16.30 pm, 22.07.2016

Back in office Michael bought two movie tickets at “Booked for To Steal From A Thief. See you at 6.00 – AMC Metreon,” he texted. “See you” popped up on his phone. Michael continued to look at his text message knowing Jessica was still miffed at him, but his modus operandi was all sorted.

POS 19.30 pm SF, 22.07.16

“Large tub of cheese popcorn and two Diet Cokes, please!”

“That’ll be $5.50. Thank you.”

The counter assistant at the popcorn counter at the Metreon swiped Michael’s card. It’s intermission and Michael wanted to hurry back to Jessica. She seemed to be enjoying the movie. He knew it was all going to be okay.

POS 20.20 pm ABJ, 22.07.16, Fouani Electronics

“Come on Michael,” Oliver muttered under his breath. “Tell me you’re in San Francisco buddy and we’ll be fine, just confirm it man.” But Michael’s phone was on “silent”. He missed the SMS alert completely, and the second one as well.

“Breathe Oliver, it’s okay Oliver, have sent the two alerts to Michael Hook.” Oliver tried to soothe his frayed nerves. All POS transactions checked out. The last one at 20.20 ABJ seemed different. Was Michael in Nigeria? But Michael hadn’t travelled anywhere in the last 12 months! Clari5 confirmed that. Oliver commanded Clari5 to give up Michael’s transaction history for the last six months to double-check. No, nothing. Michael wasn’t a big spender. And neither was he a defaulter. His last big electronics purchase was for a Kindle. Wow!

Oliver checked with Clari5: “do you think it’s a fraudulent transaction?” Clari5 advised Oliver to refuse authorisation of Michael’s card for $2,150 at Fouani Electronics, ABJ. That’s it, Oliver made his decision. He ran a few commands and an SMS was sent to Michael disabling his credit card.

22.00 pm, 22.07.16

Michael looked at the two texts from BoS. His credit card was disabled. At that exact moment his phone rang. “Oliver Pagliace from BoS. Am I speaking with Michael Hook?” 

Two days later at Fiore d’Italia – 20.00 hrs.

“OMG! Really? Oh darling, when did you, I can’t imagine…”

Michael just finished proposing to Jessica. With his credit card.

22.00 hrs, BoS branch, San Francisco, California – 24.07.16

The light from the monitor was blinking. Oliver was just biting into a sandwich. He turned around. Clari5 was at it again. This time it was Dar-es-Salaam.