It was a crime and not some weird epidemic.
November 30, 2013
A VG Serial: Dark Continent Continental
“Here’s what we have learned about the honey pots,” Angus announced. He and Skeeter had come in to see Captain Sullivan in his office to give him the results of their most recent investigations, before making final plans for their journey to Africa. Angus continued. “The supplier of the honey pots, most probably all the same person, works out of a post office box. Early in the game he mailed selected import shops a circular with photographs of the items they could order from him and then send their checks to the post office box. It had to be a cashier’s check or a money order. He sold them much below what would be expected and gave them a further discount if they ordered more than one. He uses bogus names to open the mail boxes—he is using falsified documents. The payee was the name of the bogus company. He changed these frequently. Money appears to be no object with him. He never even cashed or deposited the checks he received.”
Skeeter added, “He wised up and is no longer doing this. Too many bodies have cropped up, so he is sending free samples.”
“Free samples?” Sullivan was incredulous. “Do go on.”
“With the free samples is a card that says something like, ‘I have more like this, if you are interested, and will be in touch with you personally about the possibility of future orders for this and other authentic African artifacts.’ Again he signs a bogus name.” He is counting on them to sell the free sample for a tidy sum, through their own greed. We are calling this devil a ‘he,’ but it could be a ‘she’ or a group of people.”
Captain Sullivan had one main question. “This should have been easy for the FBI to trace with a little overtime work. What went wrong?”
“By the time the FBI or anyone else made a connection between the brainless bodies—that they were all related—that it was a crime and not some weird epidemic, our perp had changed his MO to the free-gift scenario. Anyone this sophisticated is wearing gloves, naturally,” Skeeter answered.
Angus continued the story. “There may not be many more brainless bodies. The FBI has contacted all importers recently and privately. They are keeping it under wraps, but made sure the importers are very aware. They are to contact the FBI immediately, reseal the package, and the FBI will confiscate the free gifts for examination. Not only does the FBI want secrecy for efficiency of investigation at this stage, the import shops do not want bad publicity for having dangerous and tainted products. It could ruin them.”
“He will change again,” Sullivan concluded.
“Yeah, there is always the possibility that there will be some exceptions. There will be some fly-by-night dealers that do not contact the FBI in order to avoid red tape and make more money under the table. And, as you mentioned, this guy is probably on the verge of using another delivery system—something besides honey pots.”
“Well, he is one cagey operator.” Sullivan said. “Are you sure you still want to go to Africa? Do you think you can do any more than is already being done by the FBI?”
“We believe we can, Captain.” Angus was adamant.
“I admire your guts and determination, and I wish you both well. Don’t be late getting back here, now! I need to put you right back to work when the internal investigation into your employee thefts turns up no real evidence.”
Angus chuckled. “Personally, I think we are clean. We will be back here on time and raring to go.”
“Stop by here once before you leave town, if you can. If you think of something we can do here concerning this mess, don’t hesitate to call while you are there—some info you need us to look up or something. I will be at my desk, as far as I know.”
“Thanks, Captain,” Skeeter replied. “I think we may need to take some bug spray on this trip.”
Captain Sullivan laughed one of his dry little laughs.
Chapters of Dark Continental by Sara Marie Hogg will be published on Saturday and Sunday.