|A Money Mystery (Part 1)|
|What: Jo does some investigation|
Direct 48124. It saved Shield quite an embarrassment. Maria Hill was none to keen on Shield investigating such 'easy' leads though she still wants them investigated. Word hasn't gotten out to the public yet, but in the federal law enforcement community folks are scrambling since it has been proven that the initial leads were merely a trap...but those that didn't fall for it, have SOMEHOW received leads of massive amounts of financial data for the cases they really are investigating. Its invaluable. But another trap?
Jo wants to know who is behind this, and what their motivation is. He was raised on Rimbor, a planet originally founded by criminals robbing the graves of a forgotten civilization. Crime is something he knows, and while he has been a hero for years now, suspicion is still second nature for him. Someone needs to investigate the source of this information, and an independent investigation is less likely to be compromised.
Jo starts with the physical letter, and with the report on the investigation he is sure has already been done so he does not go over the same territory. Just possibly he might notice something they missed.
The letter in question is in the evidence vault. Jo Nah has enough clearance to gain access to it. Everyone wants to find the source. There is a file with relevant information to be read if he chooses of what has been learned so far. The letter itself reveals that the paper is natural and that there is an unusual chemical in very trace amounts on one small section of the letter that isn't on the others. It is possible that they missed it when sampling the paper and running chemical analysis of the ink, though it is not immediately apparent merely by vision what that chemical might be.
Jo calls attention to the section of paper with the abnormal residue. He takes a note paper and makes a note of the isomeric forms of the chemical before he sends it to the lab. The thing about his vision is he can not tell, for example, carbon from silicon because they have the same outer shell and form similar bonds. Well, he can guess, and guess fairly well, because the outer electron shell is a slightly different size, but there are occasions he can be wrong, so it is better to analyze it professionally. He places his notes in the casebook of his investigation and moves on to the scene.
While they are analyzing the chemical, Jo works on the trail of the data input. He is not the best data seeker in the world, but is as good as most professionals in this century, and has run into a few things in the future that might not have been thought of yet. He suspects that the data run is using stop bits and data transmission duplication for error checking. Data is often sent in triplicate and then checked against itself for errors. If someone is changing the stop bits only on some of the duplicates, it would be subtle to detect, but could possibly act as a code...
The analysis takes a few hours but they're impressed. "Wow. That vision comes in handy. Totally new chemical here. The paper was pretty normal as was the ink, but this chemical? That's an industrial glue only used in a few places in the US. We can narrow it down to the city even. Hackensack, NJ."
It becomes obvious that there is a pattern here. And Jo Nah is able to see some things that shield hasn't yet. The data change in the accounts isn't coming from anywhere. There are no ip traces, and yet the bank it comes from and the bank it comes to, sometimes a secure government facility, records it as legitimate. Each time, but only the last time. So somehow they add and then subtract a transaction with NO trace of computer manipulation. All security sweeps indicate that there is no hacking of any kind. Its driving the analysts bonkers. But Jo Nah DOES notice...the physical letters were all sent at once. He believes they were sent from multiple locations at the same time but the other messages were sent one at a time...as if someone had to physically travel to the location to make the alteration, even though no facility has a record of a break in.
The evidence would tend to indicate someone with a legitimate reason to be in the banks, such as a delivery driver on an armored car, or a bank inspector, or an insurance investigator. How the changes are being made he is uncertain, but if he runs through the security cameras he might notice if the same individual appears in multiple locations. He can key facial recognition software for the same search.
A normal person looking wouldn't see anything. But with the super speed, Jo Nah recognizes...something. The thing is, that the internal cameras only show one person in three locations that matches, which is significant but he doesn't appear in any of the other twelve. But he...doesn't...DO anything. He just shows up, makes a deposit into an account in one instance, reads a news paper in a chair for a few moments in another, and then just chats with a pretty bank teller in the third. Never goes near a monitor.
Three in twelve is hardly conclusive, but Jo flags the appearances for other investigators and then sets out to Hackensack New Jersey. It seems likely the suspect spends time there, Jo should be able to locate him if he is in the area. He wonders if the person is something like a technopath, able to interface directly with the bank computers at close range. That would hardly be the strangest power he has ever encountered.
The investigation of the person doesn't immediately turn up much. Certainly not at the post office. The residue does however get more results and it is likely the source in a single factory near the outskirts of town that makes tiny artisan brushes.
Jo heads over to the brush company. There is a chance someone there knows something, but also a chance it is only one of their customers. He will have to check in depth.
An examination from afar doesn't yield results per se. The guy in the bank isn't here. No one is whispering, "I am a bank robber" etc. But...there is one guy, in his late thirties who is reading a news article about the investigations and looks...nervous. But he doesn't look like anyone who was in one of the banks. Before doing closer, Jo reads the man's identification using his Penetra vision. That information goes in his case file before he lands behind an obstruction and walks slowly over to the nervous man. He addresses the man, "Good afternoon, a very interesting article, is it not?"
The man's name is Jacob Schmidt. He jumps nervously and then looks about. What the hell? He then spots the guy is shield and then looks more nervous. Hardly a master criminal here. "Er...yes. Yes it is."
Jo identifies himself, "My name is Jo Nah, I am with SHIELD. Earlier today, I discovered evidence that someone here, at this company, may know something about the investigation. Seeing you reading about it piques my interest. Perhaps you would like to talk about it?"
Jacob scratches his head,"How in God's name did you guys track down that letter? I did everything the guy told me to do..it seemed pretty fool proof. He's never asked me to do anything like that before."
Jo smiles, "I have a few tricks not common to most investigators. So, as far as I know, you have not done anything illegal, but perhaps you could introduce me to the person you are speaking about, and tell me exactly what he has had you do."
He shakes his head, "Never met the guy. Or guys. My grandpa, right after the war, comes home and is a wreck. Someone pays off his debtors and asks if he wants a side job doing some good. And it always seemed to be good, dropping money off to charities, random folks and the like. He just picked it up and delivered it. But...my grandfather could barely describe the guy, and I've never met him. All I have is this." He takes out a Gold Dollar, 1930 issue.
Jo studies the dollar and says, "So how are you contacted, and what, to the best of your recollection, has he asked you to do when?"
Jacob says, ""We never kept any log. That's part of the instructions. But the coin shakes, vibrates, like a phone does when he has a message, and then I flip it...heads or tails like morse code. It takes a while but he pays well. Its been hundreds of times, for the last sixty years. The letter I sent to SHIELD was the last one I sent. He paid me nice and said it might be the last time he contacted me for some time. If ever."
Jo focuses his ultra vision, checking to see if there is any kind of circuitry or other device he can detect that could create the effect described. Assuming he does not find one, he will say, "Keep a close watch on that coin, I need to discuss this with my superiors."
Director Fury especially, if this started in WW2, possibly he knows something.