Sunday, March 02, 2008

Mystery Topic Challenge #8: Debit Card Fraud

It's time for another Mystery Topic Challenge. Here's the theme for this one:

Last Thursday I received a call from the fraud department at Visa. It seems someone created a duplicate of my debit/ATM/credit card and used it at truck stops in Alberta, Canada and again several days later at an amusement park in Baltimore, Maryland. I suspect I’ll never know how they got my number, what they bought with my money or why they needed those things.

Write a story using the above elements and shed some light on the mystery for me.

Well, with a little investigation and a whole lot of luck, I managed to catch up with your thief. Daniel Perkins, or "Perky" as his friends call him, agreed to an interview and I hopped on a plane to go meet him.

BunGirl: Thanks for meeting with me, Mr. Perkins. I appreciate your time.

Perky: Please, call me Perky. It's no problem at all really. I want this chance to clear my name.

BG: You mean to tell me you didn't steal a debit card and make purchases in Alberta and Baltimore?

Perky: Oh, no, I did that. I couldn't help myself though. Addiction is a tough thing to overcome you know. It compels you to do things you would never do under normal circumstances.

BG: Ok... Well then, why don't you just tell us how this all started.

Perky: Sure, sure. A few years ago, a friend of mine took a vacation in Jamaica. He was a pretty good friend, so of course he decided to bring me back a souvenir from his trip. He had no idea

BG: Hate to interrupt, but I meant how the debit card incident started.

Perky: I was gettin' to that! Geez, you want to hear this story or not?

BG: Sorry.

Perky: As well you should be. Now where was I? Oh, yeah. Anyway, Bill decided to bring back a treat for me from Jamaica. He had no idea what it would turn into, he really meant well. Still, I wish he had never done it. He brought back some of the finest Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee beans this world has ever seen.

BG: I'm sorry, did you say coffee beans?

Perky: Sure did. These weren't your regular Maxwell House beans either. Jamaican Blue Mountains can go for upward of $50 a pound. And here I was, uneducated to the delights of coffee, an innocent in a connoisseur's world. I still thought the coffee at the local Quick Stop was the best stuff around. Those beans really opened up my eyes to the world around me, you know what you mean?

BG: Not really... Please continue though.

Perky: Alright. Well, the five pound bag I was given didn't last very long, and before I knew it, I was scouring the shelves at the local supermarkets, looking for new varieties. The folks at Starbucks knew me by name and always were sure to point out to me any new stock they had in. I had heard that caffeine could be addictive, but this was something different. This wasn't about the caffeine buzz -- I could have gotten that from any old bean. This was about the experience. The flavor, aroma, the pure joy of that first taste, these are the things I crave. Not some cheap, jittery high.

BG: So it was your addiction to coffee beans that inspired you to steal someone else's debit card?

Perky: Well, yeah. I got in way over my head pretty quick. Before I knew it, I was flying to Jamaica, Panama, Costa Rica, just to try to get a fresher brew. I plowed right through my meager savings, but I just couldn't stop. It was like a compulsion. Pretty soon I had turned to shoplifting to meet all of my other needs. I didn't spend a single dime on anything other than coffee. Somewhere in all of my travels, I ran across this guy who taught me how to rig an ATM to capture someone's debit card information. I figured I had hit the payload -- with that kind of information, I could afford to go anywhere the beans called!

BG: So you chose Alberta?

Perky: Well, that wasn't my first choice, just the first one on your friend's card. There had been seven or eight other cards prior to that. Anyway, Calgary's got some pretty good coffee shops. A guy in Guatemala told me that the Black Diamond had some special beans in stock and I should rush right up there and get me some. Of course, I was so taken by the addiction by that point that I wasn't even researching my leads anymore. No sooner had he suggested it than I was on the phone booking plane tickets to Alberta.

BG: So you got to Alberta and searched out this Black Diamond coffee shop?

Perky: Yeah, except it's not even a real coffee shop. It's a bakery that also has a coffee shop attached. And they didn't have anything close to the kind of thing I was looking for. All somewhat pedestrian if you know what I mean. Well, I was fuming. I had missed out on the Kona Coffee Festival because of the "tip" this joker had provided, so I decided to track him down and give him a piece of my mind. I searched for him everywhere. He was a traveller like me you see. Coulda been anywhere on the planet, but where do I find him? Baltimore Maryland.

BG: So that's why you went to Baltimore?

Perky: Of course. I had to let the guy know that this was not acceptable.

BG: Where was it that you caught up to him?

Perky: A little dive of a place, called Bingo World. Can you believe they have the nerve to call that dump an amusement park? Anyway, he was there with his granny, celebrating her 80th birthday or something. But I was ready for my revenge. I tailed the pair all day. I watched them as they played the mid-day, matinee, main and night owl games, but just before the twilight game at one am, I finally caught him alone. I didn't really mean any harm, just wanted to rough him up a bit. Let him know he couldn't get away with playing tricks on me. Course, I got a bit carried away...

BG: And that's how you landed yourself here in prison?

Perky: Yep. It seems that Bingo World security had been keeping an eye on me all day. I guess they don't have much else to do. I would've gotten away with it otherwise. Like I said, I only meant to rough him up, but I got carried away. Turns out a broken bottle can kill a man if you hit him with it just right, repeatedly. I was about to jump the fence and take off, maybe hide out in Columbia for a while, when the guards grabbed me. They threw me in the pen after that. I guess you probably already know this, but the judge has denied me bail. Says I'm a flight risk. I'm cleaned up now though. I'm ready to do my time.

BG: Cleaned up?

Perky: Yeah, have you seen the coffee they serve here? It's like industrial waste. No way I was drinking any of that stuff. I went cold turkey as soon as they locked me up. The first few weeks were kind of shaky, but I'm better now.


Jayne d'Arcy said...

rofl - a great portrait of a coffee addict. Love it!

Romi said...

Haha, this is great, and as a fellow coffee-addict, there isn't much I wouldn't do for some quality bean ;-)

Gwen said...

Novel spin - love the creativity.

SGS said...

Cute format!!

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