Hurray for the Little Guy

Sometimes, it pays to know a few things. I happen to work as software Quality Assurance guy for one of the largest Surety companies in the United States (so yes, in the exchange I present below, there’s a minor misrepresentation on my part). I also perform project management duties for my employer’s Claims group, and as a result, I am intimately familiar with how privatized data is supposed to be handled and exchanged, especially in the context of legal proceedings.

I recently had the unfortunate experience of my credit being “hacked”, or so it appeared. As it has turned out, thanks to some very fine and very fast work performed by lawyers and staff working for a company I probably shouldn’t name at this time, due to the open litigation, we have discovered that what actually happened wasn’t a “hack” at all (Huzzah!). It was the transposition of two digits in a SSN. There is a relatively astronomically low likelihood of such a thing happening, but as I have learned time and again across this incarnation, if it’s going to happen to anyone, it’s terribly likely to happen to me.

Earlier today, I met with my legal counsel and a representative of claims counsel for the credit card company in question. Again, due to open litigation, I probably shouldn’t mention their name, either. I’ve already shared this with a few of you on Facebook, in limited form, but here is a more nuanced version, because a work meeting just got canceled, and this one really is kind of too good not to share. Triumphs like this are rare for me. The exchange took place over the phone with shared desktop via a WebEx meeting.

By this time, we’d been talking for about 10 minutes, mostly relaxed, but Prosecution Counsel clearly believes that this is the first time they’ve gotten to pin down “the Defendant” and bring him to terms, no matter what alias he may or may not be using. We’ve already gone through the boring stuff, in which the Prosecution Counsel, Defense Counsel, and my Counsel have all made introductions and done other attorney-ish things. We join the conversation at the end of my Counsel’s spiel where she is making it clear that I am not, actually, the Defendant. I’m the “Claimant” below.

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Claimant Counsel: “…whereas you can see here that the Claimant’s SSN is xxx-xx-XXxx”. (denoting where my SSN and the Defendants are just two digits apart, and are transposed)

Prosecution Counsel: “Oh….shit”.

Claimant Counsel: “Is that an admission of culpability?”

(pause), (Defense Counsel clears his throat)

Prosecution Counsel: “Um…”

I make eye contact with my counsel and nod towards the microphone in the middle of the table. She knits her brow a bit, but pushes out her lower lip and cocks her head in that nonverbal that basically means, “It’s your grave.”

Claimant (me): “So, one assumes the Injunction was filed without the due diligence required under Sarbanes-Oxley, which has led directly to the risk of seizure of real assets by someone who is not a member of the Defense. That seems….litigable…”

Claimant Counsel: (started chuckling after “Sarbanes-Oxley”)
Defense Counsel: “Oh, Damn.”

Claimant, to Claimant Counsel, quietly, but audibly: “I wonder how many other…”

Prosecution Counsel: “Seriously? you’re an attorney too?”

Claimant: “No, but I work compliance for the largest Surety company in the United States.” (slight pause) “And, I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last week.”

Claimant Counsel: (literally) Laughs out loud: a sharp burst that she fails to cover with her hand. Her facial expression is priceless. She checks the audio recording software, shaking her head.
Defense Counsel: Attempts to go on mute, hits several other buttons first.

Prosecution Counsel: “Oh, Christ.” Nervous laughter. Claimant Counsel joins in for a bit.

Claimant Counsel: (abruptly cutting her laughter short) “So, we’ll be completely above bar on this, with full expungement and all protections, unless [Prosecution] would prefer a stay while I solicit and compile class action proceedings.”

Prosecution Counsel: “We’re good.”

Defense Counsel: “I don’t believe I’m needed here, please forward records to my office.” (pause) “Mr. Gee, I hope I never see you in court.”

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All the sudden, it’s a good week. 😉 Sometimes, thinking unenslaved means knowing when to drop the mic.

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