I sit on the bus in despair, drained, confused, dejected. Clearly, it must have been a pre-meditated and calculated notion, the subject of consternation which worries me further is the amount of detail Pretend-Saiqa and her fellow Pretend-Saiqa-ites might know about me… and how…? I am not a millionaire in the first instance so that my account has been completely cleaned out has fully infected my mood and altered my otherwise blindly optimistic state of mind. Moreso disconcerted at the human race than anything, I guess because I’ve not been personally pillaged – well not recently, someone mugged me a few years back whilst I was standing at the bus stop conversing on my mobile phone and he sprinted the marathon across the main road with my blue Nokia 8210 handset, I couldn’t catch up even though I ran miles after him, he disappeared into the park far too quickly. Enter sad face emoticon here.
I can’t help but think of nothing else, not the criminal aspect so much but the nature of the person, the audacity of the female individual to brazenly breeze into a ‘secure’ financial institution as an enterprising entrepeneur, actually pretend to be me, assume my identity and dupe another more stupid human being (unless by some horrible coincidence it was an inside job) on a personal level and escape with, essentially, a wad of cash to which she has no rights (Harry Enfield and Loadsamoney suddenly waves obscenely in my imagination dancing with Kylie in love, but this is not the time to rave about the locomotion). I am dancing a jig of depression instead. I barely have rights to my own money since the government take their share for no other reason apart from that they simply can, I have zero cash and the Bank seem to be quite happy – especially the dense Call Centre Supervisor. I feel like a very valued customer.
I’m trying to understand the position of Cashier Lady, what could have possessed her to hand over money like that? Five hundred whole pounds is not exactly £13.99 for the Elizabeth Duke silver charm moustache necklace… And then I resist the urge to be violently ill… maybe Pretend-Saiqa has my Driver’s Licence and that’s the reason the money was passed over the counter because that would act as bona fide proof of identification. I fumble for my wallet and check each leathery fold, my licence has also done a Houdini – if I was on the brink of suicide before I’ve just slit my wrists now… but then I’m sure I lost it months ago since I haven’t seen it for a while anyway. I’ve been using my passport for all ID purposes this year (mental note: obtain a new licence – again). But even if Pretend-Saiqa had my licence, it states a previous address so it still appears to be all a bit dodge.
All this is circulating behind my eyes in the bubble that is my dehydrated brain and I’m considering whether I should let the Fraud Investigation Team deal with it independently or whether I should attempt to squander the investigation by paddling in with my oar, as a baseball bat. Rather like Dorothy and her ruby shoes leading her to the Wizard, (of blizzard… where did that come from… Jack Frost & Michael Keaton, that movie makes me cry to this day having watched it a thousand times), my feet possessed by the Goddess of Contemptuous Curiosity and Anger march my annoyed body to the Aylesbury branch.
I walk past the male Asian Meeter and Greeter, he can’t be important right is what I’m thinking – he’s standing at the Welcome Podium which is surely reserved for the minions, especially since it’s opposite the entrance and the cold is gusting its way through. It is insanely quiet for a Friday lunchtime, there is only one other person being attended to and there is no queue. My first thought is to request I speak with the Branch Manager immediately however, I go for investigative journalism instead and approach Cashier Lady who I spy suspiciously because it may have been her who decided to emulate Santa Claus yesterday.
I just have a query really, I’m not sure you can help me, if someone was to come in with a card to withdraw money, which security measures do they go through for them to be able to access the funds on the account?
Well, we’d request date of birth, address details, current transactions or any other means of securing the identity of the cardholder.
Riiight, so if the person came in with perhaps a Driver’s Licence with an old address would they still be able to access the money?
No, the licence would need to match the address we have on our system.
So it wouldn’t be checked on an historic address you have on record for the account?
No, it would need to be the current address of the cardholder.
Okkk, so if there was a stop on a card, would there be any way of handing the cash over?
No, if a stop was placed on the card then usually other forms of ID would be required to withdraw money from the affected account.
Riiiiiight, sorry, I’m just processing all of this information as I’m trying to figure out what happened…
Can I ask what this is in relation to?
Well, I reported my card lost yesterday at the Risborough branch and cancelled the card; half an hour later, someone came into this branch and a cashier processed the withdrawal from my account.
Cashier Lady looks at me a bit startled.
You say from this branch? The Aylesbury branch.
Yes. Correct. This branch, yesterday lunchtime.
Can I take your name and address please and I can take a look?
Sure and I give over my credentials as requested by the ‘security’ questions. Note: I was not asked for any formal ID before the rest of the account information is given to me.
I see a withdrawal for £500, are you sure it was this branch?
Yes, I didn’t make the withdrawal, I put a stop on the card but it was over-ridden by someone at this branch.
I’ll be back in a moment.
I laser eye her and burn her head clean off from her neck through the perforated glass, my superpowers are not working today. It’s a shame. She returns as promised.
If you take a seat, I’ll speak with the Branch Manager.
I head towards the seating area which is really a linear arrangement of chairs, adjacent to my left is a frosted screen for customer privacy where another female member of staff is sitting. Cashier Lady and Female discuss my account transactions in hushed confusion and Cashier Lady re-appears requesting I provide an example of my signature. I give her two signatures; my real one and the signature that appears on my lost card explaining the signature strip is too narrow for my full signature to fit. Inside my head, I am berating myself for having such an easy signature to forge since it just practically spells my name quite messily…
Cashier Lady relays the situation to Female and I am unable to really hear the details. Shortly afterwards, Cashier Lady speaks with Asian Meeter and Greeter and the three of them are now trying to play Cluedo. Too many cooks comes to mind… suddenly, Asian Meeter and Greeter quite loudly says “No! Shuttup! How can that have happened?!” – this is hardly instilling me with any kind of confidence that the situation is going to be easily rectified. Additionally, I am wondering how this involves the Asian guy. Is it because I’m Asian he is now going to deal with me, am I too brown to be dealt with by the non-brown people? At this point, I’m losing the will to live and all aspects of customer service are diminishing before my very eyes.
Asian Meeter and Greeter emerges from behind the screen and advises me to come through. He doesn’t introduce himself as the Branch Manager so clearly he must not be and I am none the wiser, perhaps it is Female who is too scared to come out and face me just in case I toss a nuclear warhead at her from inside my tiny handbag, Cashier Lady has also quietly disappeared. The branch is still empty. Ish.
So, I understand you have a query on your account.
I look at him wondering if he thinks I am oblivious to the events that have just taken place behind the screen. It’s not a soundproof room! I am surrounded by idiots. In a bank. No wonder they never catch bank robbers. It’s incredible.
I’d like to know how money was withdrawn from my account after I put a stop on the card.
Well, if the money was withdrawn before the stop was placed that’s how the withdrawal would have occurred.
No. I put the stop on the account at 13:19 and at 13:49 the money was withdrawn. The stop was over-ridden by the cashier at this branch, I’d like to know why and the reasons as to how this would have happened?
Another baffled expression.
The money was withdrawn after the stop was placed?
Yes, you can check the account. I’ve already spoken with the Fraud Team and those are the details that were given to me.
So you’ve already reported this to our internal departments?
Yes, from the Risborough branch which is the area where I work, it was reported this afternoon. I’ve just come from that branch. I was trying to work out how this happened considering I am not sure if I’ve lost my driver’s licence so I thought I’d check with you as I live in Aylesbury and to be honest, waiting until Tuesday is too far away. If the person also had my licence, then you’d take a copy of the licence and note the driver number on the withdrawal slip so I wanted to find out if this was the case…
And in that split second, I noticed the withdrawal slip in Asian Meeter and Greeter’s hand with £500 hand written in black biro.
Is that the slip?
Yes, this is the slip.
Are you serious? I cover my face with my hands so I don’t spontaneously combust with utter hysteria. Is that the signature my money went out on?
Yes, it’s uncanny how the signatures are quite similar.
Are you joking?! They look nothing alike! This is the signature on the card… and I point to the second signature which I crafted on the blank piece of paper. And I also see my Driver Number isn’t noted on the slip so they just had my card – which had a stop on it. If I was working here I’d never have let the cash go on that signature, it’s ridiculous! They are totally different.
Again, another stunned silence from another Aylesbury staff member.
Well, we are quite a busy branch.
My turn for confounded stupefaction. I am unable to comprehend that sentence.