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Excerpt for Computer Thief by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Computer Thief

By R. Richard ©

Published by R. Richard at Smashwords

Copyright 2018 R. Richard

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Computer Thief

By R. Richard © 2018

Chapter 1: The Investigation

I get frog marched into an interview room.

Some government ass hole snarls at me, “Someone stole a large amount of money, from the company where you work.”

I reply, “So the rumor mill says.”

The ass hole snarls at me, “You’re a computer programmer.”

I reply, “My job title is, ‘Senior Systems Analyst.’ The title means that I program computers and that I also design computer programs, for computer programmers to work on.”

“They tell me that you’re pretty good, at programming computers.”

I reply, “Be sure to tell my upper management, before the next raise review cycle.”

The government ass hole lectures me, “When we pay your company, for government ordered work, we transfer the money electronically.”

I reply, “I’m not surprised. I get my paycheck money direct deposited to my bank account, come payday. Of course, the direct deposit is done electronically.”

The government ass hole asks me, “Do you know how that money transfer works?”

I reply, “A little bit.”

The government ass hole says, “Tell me.”

I reply, “My company has a payroll bank account, say with bank A. My company then orders bank A to transfer my net pay, to my account at bank B. Via the magic of computer transfers, my net pay is transferred from the company payroll account at bank A, say A1234, to my account, at bank B, say to account B2468.”

The government ass hole tells me, “You seem to know a lot about how the money transfer works.”

I reply, “Some time back, my company transferred my net pay from the company payroll account at bank A, to an account, at bank B, but to account B2486, not B2468, with the last two account digits reversed. I have no idea how it happened, but we had to pay the Devil to get the money back and tucked into my B2468 account.”

The government ass hole asks me, “You don’t know what bank A your company uses for their payroll account?”

I reply, “I think that I do. However, not all that long ago, the bank A that my company uses changed from one bank A to another bank A. That was right after they fired the slimy son of a bitch who used to run accounting for my company. The ladies who work at my company said that the slimy son of a bitch was diverting company funds to a blonde hooker.”

The government ass hole sneers, “You didn’t know anything about that?”

I reply, “I tried to get a nude photo of the blonde hooker, just for identification purposes, but no go.”

The government ass hole asks me, “Tell me how someone might redirect funds to other than the account intended.”

I reply, “In normal practice, the government would have a computer program set up to pay government bills. The government bank account would be the default ‘from’ account. The operator would enter the recipient bank account, including the bank ID. The identity of the recipient would normally be obtained from a pull down list. The operator would pull down the correct recipient bank account, type in the amount to be transferred, double check everything and hit the enter key.”

The government ass hole asks me, “Then you’re telling me that the theft was an inside job?”

I reply, “Not necessarily. A very clever hacker might be able to get into the government computer system, find the items in the recipient pull down list, then alter the actual recipient ID, after the correct recipient ID was displayed to the operator.”

The government ass hole then muses, “So, the operator would never know that he was sending the money to the wrong bank account.”

I reply, “It would be tough to set up, but for a million bucks, it would be doable.”

The government ass hole then asks me, “Could the hacking be done with no inside help?”

I reply, “If a hacker has inside help, the whole operation is much easier. The inside help doesn’t have to be a current employee, it could be an ex-employee, who still remembers the key information. Even without inside help, a really good and determined hacker might be able to get inside a pay program and do the evil deed. The last would be very difficult, but we computer programmers have a saying, ‘I wouldn’t do that, even if you paid me, … How much did you say?’ To gain a million dollars, a hacker would be willing to work really hard.”

The government ass hole says, “So, you know how to do it.”

I reply, “I know how it can be done, on a high level. Any senior computer programmers who has any experience with banks would know the same thing.”

The government ass hole says, “So, you have the stolen money in your bank account. Then what?”

I reply, “Hell, I could pay off my mortgage, I could buy a Ferrari, I could buy stocks, rent a blonde hooker, a whole bunch of things.”

The government ass hole says, “You have the money in your bank account and you run off to some place where there’s no extradition treaty. Then what?”

I reply, “I got a million dollars and I run off to some hell hole and live in exile? If I stay here, work hard and invest, I retire here, with more than million dollars in investments and nobody looking for me.”

The government ass hole says, “We’re interviewing all of the senior computer programmers here. You can go now, but we may want to talk to you again.”

I reply, “Hell, I got no choice. The company says talk to you, I talk to you.”

(I flash back to a recent evening, where I wheeled a large trash can, with a flat green painted wooden top, to a little shelter in a park, where there’s a pay phone. I used what are called phone phreak techniques to make it seem that the call that I’m gonna make comes from another state. I pull my computer equipment from the trash can, set it on the wooden top and I hacked into a government computer and entered some patch code, to redirect some payment information from one bank destination, to another bank destination. When the transfer payment information transfer was done, I removed the patch code. I then put my computer equipment back into the trash can and I was then just another homeowner, dumping lawn trash into a recycling dump. I got back home and disposed of the green painted wooden top, leaving no evidence.)

(I go back to work and I talk with some of the other senior programmers. They all talked with the government ass hole.)

One of the guys asks, “What’s the problem, I didn’t steal the money?”

I lecture the guy, “I didn’t steal the money from the company either. However, the government is out, what, maybe a million dollars? Likely somebody goes down, guilty or not.”

Another guy asks, “What you guys gonna do?”

I sigh, “Nothing here. But I wouldn’t go buy a Ferrari at this point in time.”

The guy laughs and says, “Not likely, my household budget is not up to a Ferrari, at this point in time.”

I quip, “Strange, I find myself in the same situation. Worse yet, if the company did lose a million dollars, likely the next raises won’t get us to Ferrari money.”

(We all get back to work, which is just as well. Ricky, the no load Project Manager, wanders by and wants to know what we’re doing. This request despite the three hour meetings that we have to sit through each morning.)

I tell Ricky, “The first item on my current schedule.”

Ricky asks,”What is that?”

(I had to explain that, during the three hour meeting, this morning. Well, three hours less my time with the government ass hole.)

I again explain the first item on my schedule to no load Ricky.

Ricky then wanders off to bother some one else.

(There are no other programmer jobs, in town. We do the work and Ricky gets the big pay. Ricky doesn’t even write a report. He gathers the weekly written reports that we’re forced to write and has the Department Secretary hammer them into a project report. If the company loses enough money to force them into bankruptcy, other companies in the area will grab the projects and life will again be worth living for the wage slaves.)

Ricky wanders back and tells me, “You keep up the work, Jim, we may have to tighten our belts here.”

I reply, “I’m currently turning out software modules, as fast as I can. I can really do no more. If you want more production, you need to assign another programmer, to help me.”

Ricky sneers, “I just might assign another programmer, to replace you.”

“Well, I need the paycheck, so I’ll just do what I can.”

Ricky then wanders off, to do nothing.

The next morning, I get called in, by the Department Manager.

The Department Manager asks me, “Are you missing anything important, by missing the morning meeting?”

I reply, “I keep a running log of my work, day by day. I left my log with the Department Secretary, this morning. If Ricky wants to know what I’m doing and the status of my work, all he has to do is read my daily log reports.”

The Department Manager asks me, “What about input from the other programmers?”

“If they need my help, they come to me. There’s no connection between what I’’m doing and what the other guys are doing.”

The Department Manager then tells me, “There has been a major screw up. The government supposedly sent us money and I signed off on receipt of the money, without checking. The money never arrived. The company is in big financial trouble.”

I ask, “You didn’t check, before you signed off on the receipt of a lot of money?”

“No, I was busy with other things.”

(Yeah, like out playing golf.) “Well, what now?”

The Department Manager says, “We didn’t get the big new contract that we expected. There was some sort of problem with the customer demo. Do you have any idea what happened?”

I lecture, “A customer rep stopped by, on his way out. He told me that there was no one to answer questions, during the demo. When there was a problem, there was no one to analyze or fix the problem.”

The Department Manager sighs, “Yes. I talked with the customer. They were very unhappy. Who was there, during the demo?”

I reply, “I don’t know. Ricky told me that I was not to attend the demo.”

The Department Manager says, “Ricky and Roberto were the only ones from our company there.”

I lecture, “Roberto is a good hardware tech. If Roberto set up the hardware, there should have been no hardware problems. However, Roberto knows nothing of the software.”

The Department Manager sighs, “You wrote all of the software for the demo.”

I reply, “Actually I used a few hardware drivers, done by other programmers. However, I do understand the hardware drivers.”

The Department Manager snaps, “Ricky knew nothing of the hardware or the software. He was able to answer none of the questions. Why were you not present at the demo?”

I reply, “I was not present at the demo, because Ricky told me not to attend.”

The Department Manager snaps, “I’m going to talk to Ricky this morning. Ricky basically cost us the demo and the contract.”


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