Ah, technology. Where there is data, there is always some geek looking to steal it. Just ask Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. The Russians hacked into their computer files as easily as they might smash a porcelain piggy bank with a hammer. Then, before anyone could say Vladimir, all manner of confidential emails, many altered and some not, were buzzing around the internet. Shortly afterward the former Secretary of State and those of us with functioning intellects were fucked.
But, hey, that's another story which has been well documented far and wide.
What we are talking about right now began last Wednesday, or Thursday and is far more immediate and personal.
On Wednesday my wife paid for a visit to her eye doctor with her bank debit card. On Thursday she used it to pick up stamps from a machine in a U.S. Post Office lobby and later to buy some sublimely greasy grub from a local Sonic Drive-in.
At one of those three places, or in between, someone with a Bernie Madoff Super Secret Deluxe Credit Card Scanner managed to pick up her card number and expiration date without ever touching the card itself, or her.
That person, we're told, immediately sold the information over the net to some other son of a bitch who, with very little effort, copied and pasted the account number to a blank Interjet check card and a CBA, "youth credit card." Interjet is an airline serving U.S. locations, Mexico, and the Caribbean, while CBA is a bank located in Kenya.
By last Friday morning this second person, or persons were loose in Monterrey, Mexico and other points south having the time of their lives. Meanwhile our checking account was melting away like an ice cube on a hot sidewalk.
There was a cash withdraw of $200 with the Interjet card in Toluca which is west of Mexico City. Then a $30 withdraw on the CBA card in Monterrey. There was also a $30 charge to a hospital in San Pedro, which is a part of the Monterrey metro area and an $80 plus hit at a Guadalajara pharmacy.
To celebrate the treatment of what we can only hope is an extremely painful disease, or injury, plus the procurement of God knows what kind of opiates, a shopping trip to a Monterrey department store ran up a $100 tab. Finally, to top off the occasion there was lunch at a Monterrey Burger King which cost $12. Every buy was accompanied by international banking fees ranging from $6 to .37 cents. It all happened within 15 hours of the visit to the Sonic.
That's where The Screw The Howards Express stopped. It wasn't the bank who discovered the run amok fraud. Oh no. Despite previous stern warnings that if we traveled out of country without notifying them first our cards would be shut off as soon we attempted to use them, Bank of Oklahoma happily deducted every sale from our account--no questions asked. Indeed, I just happened to look online to see if a recent check had gone through and there before me was the post Cinco de Mayo spending spree happening in real time.
The desperate phone calls began immediately Friday and didn't end until this morning. The bank canceled the card at once. However it took a personal visit to a local branch and the crudest sort of threats--"Listen, I'll sic Jim Comey on your ass. The man is a professional when it comes to these things!"--before the technocrats in command of the great computer finally issued us, "provisional credits," covering the charges. The permanent refunds won't be applied until some latter day bank dick decides my wife and I didn't actually fly off to Toluca for a Thursday and Friday orgy of sex, drugs, and mariachi.
Yes, it is a brave new world. Who needs guns when you have a brain, the right sort of electronics, and the morals of Don Trump? Just swoop in, swoop out, and let the machines do the rest. Well, except eat the Whopper and fries.
Suddenly living off the grid sounds, not just appealing, but advisable. So much so a cabana on the east side of Ambergris Caye looks to be the only viable option at this time.
sic vita est