Cover Image
Ken Nummela
Kraken Dreams

A cell phone began to warble loudly.

     Loy-lill-yeee! Loy-lill-yeee! Loy-lill-yeee!

     Loy-lill-yeee! Loy-lill-yeee! Loy-lill-yeee!

     Loy-lill-yeee! Loy-lill-yeee! Loy-lill-yeee!

     "Damn thing," old Ernie muttered, glancing up from his laptop. He reached out to shut off the annoying noise but noticed the call was from his area. This was unusual. Most of the time these days, all he received were robo-calls from unrecognizable area codes. This might be someone he knew, he thought, maybe with some news of another deceased friend. He decided to answer it.


     "Hello, Mr. Ernie Harris? Is that who I'm talking to?"

     "Yes, that's me."

     "Mr. Harris, my name is David Ortega. I'm an investigator calling from the fraud division at Amazon."

     "Amazon?" the retired carpenter asked. "What's the problem?"

     "We are investigating a recent purchase made on your account. You have an account with Amazon, do you not?"

     "Yes, I do," he answered slowly.

     "Did you recently make a purchase of $1,242.00 for an iPhone?"

     "What? For an iPhone, did you say?" he asked. "I can't hear you because of the others there talking."

     'Yes, for an iPhone costing $1,242.00," said the investigator, raising the volume of his voice slightly.

     "No, I did not," Ernie answered, suddenly concerned.

     "And do you have a bank account with RBC?" David asked.

     "Yee-ess," said Ernie hesitantly.

     "We thought something might be wrong about this charge, Mr. Harris. Because the order on your account was made from Edmonton, Alberta, using a debit from your bank account. Have you been to Edmonton recently?"

     "Edmonton? No, I haven't."

<  2  >

     "Do you know anybody from an entity called Pac Inc?" asked the investigator. "We think they are the people who used your account."

     "Pac Inc? No, I've never heard of them."

     "Thank you, Mr. Harris," said David cordially. "Then it wasn't you."

     "No, that definitely wasn't me," Mr. Harris answered. "I have hardly ever used that Amazon account. My daughter set it up for me a few years ago in case I wanted to start shopping from home. She was trying to get me into the 20th century, ha, ha!"

     "We'd like you to help us help you get your money back, sir, and also catch the people who did this. Would you be willing to help us with that, sir?"

     Mr. Harris was beginning to appreciate David's respectful tone and, funnily enough, his company. It had been a while since he'd talked with anyone. He often went days without talking to a soul. And this was kind of exciting.

     "Yes, I would," the old fellow answered.

     "Do you have a laptop or computer nearby, Mr. Harris?" David asked.

     "What did you say again?" Mr. Harris asked, "A laptop?" The loud background chatter hadn't subsided at all. These were probably other investigators talking to other clients, he thought.

     "My hearing isn't that good. Oh--yes, I have a laptop."

     "A laptop," said David Ortega, "That's good. Is it nearby? Would you mind turning it on?"

     "It's already on," replied the old man. "I was trying to write a grocery list for my daughter when you called."

     "Alright. Do you have a web browser, Mr. Harris?

     "What did you say?" said Ernie, getting annoyed. "Can you tell the people with you to stop talking so loudly!?"

     "Do you have Google?"

<  3  >

     "Google? Yes."

     "Could you open it up for me?"

     "Why do you want me to do that?"

     "So we can catch the perpetrators of this crime," he answered smoothly. "You said you wanted to help us."

     "Okay, I do. I'll open my Google."

     "That's good. Have you opened it now? Alright, Mr. Harris, could you type in the word 'Kraken' please, k-r-a-k-e-n."

     "Kraken, what's that?" asked the old man, becoming suspicious for the first time. He just didn't like the word. Wasn't Kraken a sea monster or something?

     "It is a way for us to help you get your money back, sir, and to catch the perpetrators."

     "Well, I guess so," he said slowly. "How do you spell it again?"

     "Do you see it on your search, sir?" asked the investigator after a moment.

     "Yes. It says"

     "Okay. Please open it and go to the website."

     "Wait a second," old Ernie said, "it says Kraken is a crypto exchange. What's that?"

     "It's a kind of bank we can use to help us track down who did this," said David calmly. "We need you to open an account. Just tap on Sign Up on the right hand of your screen."

     "I don't know about this," said Ernie, "Okay, I've done it. It says it wants my email address now."

     "Please do that then," David said.

     "Jeezus! Now I have to think up a username," the old fellow complained.

     "That's fine," said David. "Take your time."

     "Now it wants my name and to know where I live," said Ernie several minutes later. "I'm not sure I want to do that."

<  4  >

     "They are like a bank, and they keep this information strictly confidential," said David reassuringly. "You can go ahead."

     "Oh, wow!" Ernie exclaimed. "Now, they want me to give them a copy of my driver's license. I really don't know about that one."

     "Again, that information will remain strictly confidential," David said. "I can assure you it will not be shared by anyone."

     "They want everything, don't they?" Ernie said. "But I don't know how to give them a copy of my driver's license."

     "Are you able to take a screenshot with your laptop?"

     "I don't know, maybe. But I don't know how to do it."

     "You can take a picture with your cellphone and then email it as an attachment to yourself. What kind of cell do you have? An S8? Good. Then you can open the email on your laptop and download the pictures there."

     "Pictures?" asked Ernie. "I only have one license."

     "Yes. You need to take a picture of the front and the back of your license."

     "Things sure have changed since I was young," said Mr. Harris as he proceeded to do what David had instructed. "Everything is so complicated now. When I was young, they were still driving horses and buggies, ha, ha!"

     "You are doing fine," said David. "Take your time."

     Ten minutes later, David asked, "Has your email arrived yet, Mr. Harris?"

     "Yes, it's there now."

     "Download your attachments then and find them in your Downloads files."

     "Okay, they are in my Downloads," Ernie replied several minutes later. "But how do I get them into Kraken?"

     "I am going to help you do that," said David calmly. "You will need to download an app called Autodesk onto your computer."

<  5  >

     "Autodesk?" Ernie asked. "This is getting a little ridiculous if you ask me."

     "Autodesk, yes, a-u-t-o-d-e-s-k," he said flatly. "Look for it on Google."

     "It is on the screen now," said Ernie.

     "Download it then," David said curtly. "And fill in the information they need."

     "Boy, oh, boy," said Mr. Harris, noticing David's change in tone. "You are lucky I have the time to do this today. I'm almost thinking it isn't worth it. My daughter is going to be visiting me in an hour."

     "We will be finished by then," said the imposter. "Don't worry about that." And ten minutes later, he had gained complete control of Mr. Harris' computer.


     "What are you doing?" Mr. Harris asked. He could see the cursor moving about on his screen, opening files.

     "I'm looking for the pictures of your driver's license," David replied.

     "Whoa, whoa, just wait a minute!" implored Ernie. "I just thought of something! I want to look at my Amazon account first!"

     "You really don't need to do that, sir," said David, betraying some impatience.

     "I want to see that order they made," Ernie said. "Maybe it can tell us something."

     "I will bring up Amazon for you, Mr. Harris," said David with a sigh. "Do you see the Amazon website on your laptop now?"

     "Yes, it's there," he answered.

     "You will need to enter your password to get in," David said. "Do you recall your password?"

     "Yes, I remember that one," Ernie said, but he thought better than to say it aloud. It was the name of his daughter's pesky dog, Scooter.

     "Is that your credit card?" David asked.

     "Yes," Ernie confirmed, noting only the last four numbers were visible. Given the circumstances, he suddenly thought this might not be such a bad thing. He half expected David to ask him to be given the whole card number, but he didn't. "Look, there's no order there for the iPhone! Why isn't one there?"

<  6  >

     "We removed it so the perpetrator wouldn't suspect we are onto them," David said without missing a beat. "They will think the order is being delivered, and we will be able to catch them when it does."

     "I'm not sure if I follow that one," said old Ernie, suddenly becoming wary. "But I guess you know what you're doing." Mr. Harris then watched David simply drag the pictures of his driver's license onto the Bitcoin website and release them into their respective portals.


     "You now have a Kraken account," announced David. "Now, we have to take a look at your bank account with RBC. You also have an account at Toronto Dominion, don't you?"

     "Yes, I do," said Ernie, somewhat taken aback that David knew this. He then realized they could see it on his laptop. "I don't know how to get into that account. My daughter has to do it for me."

     "That's fine," David replied calmly. "We just need to look at your RBC account to see if there is a debit there for the iPhone."

     Ernie was starting to feel as though dark tentacles, rising up from the deep, were beginning to surround him. But he opened the account for the imposter anyway because it was far the lesser of two evils. The TD account was where his real money was. He was suddenly very thankful he didn't keep any passwords on his computer.

     "That's your account?" David asked, repeating out loud the account numbers he saw. "With a balance of $1967.00?"

     "Yes, it is — but I don't see a withdrawal for the phone," Ernie said, becoming increasingly suspicious of what was going on. "Why isn't there one there?"

     "Because the debit hasn't come through to the bank yet," David said. "It doesn't happen right away."

     "I'm not getting this," said Ernie. "First, there's no record of it on Amazon, and now nothing is showing up on my bank account."

<  7  >

     "It will, though," David said, "probably quite soon. We need to wait a while, and you need to leave your computer alone."

     "Can I at least work on my grocery list?" Ernie asked in frustration. "It is for my daughter when she comes."

     "No, don't touch your computer," the imposter said, "make yourself a cup of tea and wait."

     Ernie was about to protest but didn't. They had control of his computer, they knew his bank account number and, for all he knew, could have a copy of his driver's license now. He felt he'd gone past the point of no return and had to see this scam, if that's what it was, through to the end. He felt like some sea monster was pulling him beneath the waves, and he was trapped.


     Ten minutes later, his cellphone rang.

     "Open your bank account again and check your account balance, Mr. Harris," said David.

     "The debit came in," said Ernie, slowly. "It is there now."

     "This is a good thing, Mr. Harris," said David reassuringly. "Now we can catch them. You need to call your bank now and tell them to release the payment for the phone."

     "What? What do you mean by that?" asked Ernie loudly. "If the debit is showing, doesn't it mean it is going through?"

     "No," said David, "the debit for the phone is still pending. It needs to be approved by you."

     "Why do anything then if the money is still there?" Ernie asked.

     "So we can catch who did this, Mr. Harris," David said. "That transfer in your account was requested by Pac Inc. Those are the same people who started this off in Edmonton, remember? You have to approve the transfer so they won't know we are onto them."

     "I'm not following this at all," Ernie said. "What is going to happen to my money then?"

<  8  >

     "You will get your money back, Mr. Norris," answered the imposter, "because when you call the bank, that money will be transferred into your Kraken account, and then you can transfer it back."

     "This is not making much sense to me," Ernie said. "Why do we need to send the transfer again?

     "Because the people who did this are probably monitoring your account," said the imposter. "And if they see the money for the phone hasn't been transferred but that the delivery for the phone is coming anyway, they will suspect we are onto them. They could decline the delivery then, and we won't be able to apprehend them."

     Ernie thought momentarily about asking David what would stop him from taking the money, then didn't. He knew what the answer would be, whether it was true or not. But then he couldn't stop himself.

     "What would stop you from taking the money out of Kraken?" he blurted out.

     "Because we do not know your password, Mr. Norris," David said.

     "My name is Harris," Ernie said, correcting him. "That's the second time you've said Norris."

     "Oh, of course, Mr. Harris," said David apologetically. "Mr. Norris is another one of my clients I'm helping also. I'm sorry about that."

     "So let me get this straight then," the old carpenter said, getting up from his desk and walking into the adjacent living room. "You want me to call the bank and tell them to release the money, but I can't talk to them about your investigation?"

     "No, if you do that, they might start investigating the transfer too, and this will tip off the people who did this," explained David. "We don't want this to happen. We want to catch them with the goods."

     Ernie was trying to fathom a reply, when at this precise moment he heard a knock on the back door and his daughter walked into the room.

<  9  >

     "Hi, Daddy," she said cheerfully. "Who are you talking to?"

     Ernie held up his hand to silence her. He was beginning to think he had become involved in a scam but then thought, why would they go to all this rigmarole for only $1200 dollars? Why weren't they trying for a lot more?

     "Okay, I will do it," he said, "but I am trusting you about this."

     "To help ease your mind, Mr. Harris," said David, "let me give you my name again, David Ortega, O-r-t-e-g-a, and my Amazon employee number. Do you have a pen and paper handy?"

     "Okay, I've written down your information," said Ernie. "Thanks a lot."

     "Tell your bank to make the transfer and call me back when you do," David said. "And don't talk about what we are doing, or we won't get them."

     "Alright, sir, I won't," he said, and the call was disconnected.


     "Who were you talking to, Dad?" asked his daughter. "It sounded pretty serious."

     "It was the fraud department from Amazon," he answered. "Someone ordered an iPhone on my account, and they are doing an investigation to try to catch them."

     "Amazon?" she asked. "I don't think Amazon does investigations like that. Are you sure it's not a scam? Do they want you to send them any money?"

     "Ahh, they do," he answered hesitantly. "But they said I will get it back."

     "How's that going to happen, Dad?" she asked.

     "It is too complicated to explain to you right now, Kathy," he said anxiously. "I am supposed to be phoning my bank."

     "Can't you wait, Dad?" Kathy asked gently. "We were supposed to go grocery shopping today, remember?"

     "I did, but I just can't go," he said. "I have to take care of this fraud thing."

<  10  >

     "Did you do a grocery list for me?"

     "No, I didn't have any time dealing with this fraud business."

     "Alright then, I know what to get you, Dad. I will pick up some groceries for you and come back," she said. "But you at least should phone Amazon first to see if they really are investigating. I think I read a warning in the paper that they don't do this."


     Ernie sat in his armchair and tried to collect his thoughts. What had he become involved in here, he thought? That was a very foolish of me to give them those photos of my driver's license. If I was going to call them out and stop them, that's when I should have done it. Suddenly, it felt hard for him to breathe. It felt as though something had taken him by the throat and was choking him. Then his cellphone started to scream and shake in his hand, making him start.

     "Did you call the bank yet Ernie?" David asked.

     "No, I didn't," he said. "I was talking with my daughter."

     "You need to call them right now," David said impatiently, "or those people in Edmonton will get away."

     "Okay, I will," he replied, "but just give me a bit of time. It is way past my lunchtime. I need to eat something first."


     Ernie made a sandwich for himself and returned to his armchair in the living room to eat it. He decided that Kathy was right. He should get in touch with Amazon if he could. He went to their website on his phone and wrote down the Customer Service number. It was nothing like the number his friend David had contacted him with, however. And there was nothing on their website that indicated they had a Fraud Division he could contact. He was about to call the number for Amazon but suddenly felt too weary. I will just rest my eyes for a minute before calling them, he thought. Then, reclining his armchair back, he quickly fell into an uneasy sleep and dreamt about fleeing the Kraken. But every door he opened the sea monster was there.

<  11  >


     When he awoke, it took him a minute or two to clear his head and orient himself. Looking up at the clock on the mantle, he was surprised to see he'd been asleep for nearly an hour. His good friend David would have wanted to hear from him by now, he thought, and was probably wondering what was going on. He better call the bank before David called him. But as he reached out to retrieve his phone from the coffee table, he suddenly froze and stared, trying to comprehend what was going on. He could see apps shifting around and being randomly opened on his phone's home screen. Ernie did not know how this was possible because he could not remember doing anything to help give David access to his phone, too. But, it was obviously him, and Ernie realized he needed to see what they had been up to on his laptop while he was sleeping.

     When he returned to his den, not much to his surprise now, he saw the cursor on his screen busily opening and closing apps and files. This was not right, he thought angrily! Enough was enough! But at the very moment he went to push the power button off, a purple icon was dragged onto the screen and opened, and he was suddenly looking at himself, standing frozen over his desk with a bewildered look on his face. An instant later, the screen darkened, and his vision disappeared. Then the cellphone rang in his hand.

     "Was that you, David?" he asked flatly.

     "Yes," he said.

     "Did you see me?"

     "Yes," said the imposter. "I was just turning the computer off for you."

     "Oh, you were, were you David?" he said angrily. "I was looking for information at Amazon on my phone, and your number doesn't seem to be there."

     "I told you they don't publicly list the number for the fraud department," he said quickly. "The number for Amazon is, uhm, it's 1-888-280-4331."

     "But that's their number," said Ernie emphatically, "that's not your number."

<  12  >

     "But I am from Amazon, Mr. Harris," said David, "you should believe me."

     "I'm not sure if I do," Ernie said. "If I type that number into my phone, it tells me it is them. But

     when I put your number in — I'm doing it right now — it says, 'It looks like there aren't many great matches for your search.'"

     "That's because it's not listed," David said impatiently. "You need to call your bank to approve that transfer."

     "I'm going to call Amazon first," Ernie said.

     "Jesus!" exclaimed the imposter under his breath. "You need to call your bank first!"

     "It won't matter if I call Amazon first," said Ernie. "If they confirm who you are, you'll get your money."


     When his daughter returned with his groceries Ernie was sitting in his armchair thinking about what had happened and was not feeling very good about it. Kathy quickly put his groceries away for him then joined him in the living room.

     "Well, Dad, how did it go?" she asked.

     "Not very well, sweetheart," he replied dejectedly. "You were right. I called Amazon, and they said they don't do fraud investigations. I feel like a foolish old man, Kathy."

     "Did you send them any money, though?" she asked.

     "No, I didn't," he said. "But I think they might have gotten a copy of my driver's license, which is something I will always have to worry about."

     Ernie then tried his best to explain to her what happened, but in the retelling of it, he couldn't even make much sense of it.

     "Well, they didn't manage to steal any money from you, Dad," Kathy said, finally. "And you must not feel badly about yourself for what happened."

     "Oh, thank you, honey," he said. "But it is going to take me a while to forgive myself for being so gullible."

<  13  >

     "Those people are con artists, Dad, and they're very good at what they do," she said. "They have fooled many more people than just you. I will bring Ted over in the morning so he can clean up your laptop for you and make sure it is running okay."

     "Oh, that would be great," said Ernie. "Your husband is really good with computer problems."

     "So I'll be back here in the morning with Ted," she said, rising from the couch. "And do not beat yourself up about this, Dad. Everything will be alright. Just make sure to turn off your laptop before you go to bed."

     "I will, dear," Ernie said, giving her a big hug. "Goodbye now. And thank you very much for everything."


     Well, that was quite a day, Ernie thought, after his daughter had left. He was very tired and decided to go to bed early, but there was something he decided he wanted to do first. He picked up his phone and called David's number. He just wanted to give him a piece of his mind. But after several rings, there was no answer, of course, and he hung up. He was probably worried it was the police calling him by now, he thought. So he sent him a text: 'It was very nice meeting you today. You didn't get my money, but you probably got my driver's license. I hope you are proud of yourself, Dave. Have a good life.' Ernie felt much better now, having taken care of things, and headed to bed for a good night's sleep.


     Hours later, in the middle of the night, a light blinked on in his den. But Ernie was fast asleep and would never know about this. Unfortunately he had forgotten to power off his laptop as his daughter had reminded him to do. And Dave and his friends had come back to play.


     THE END

If you liked this story, please share it with others:
- Printable Version
- iPhone App
- Teaching Materials
- Mark This Story Read
- More Stories By This Author
- View Comments
- Printable Version
- iPhone App
- Teaching Materials
- Mark This Story Read
- More Stories By This Author


- View Comments
- Printable Version
- iPhone App
- Teaching Materials
- Mark This Story Read
- More Stories By This Author
Rate This Story

View And Add Comments
Related Stories: