NFEditor finally got bored last night and left the office, which meant that Intern2 could come collect me. On the way back to MNM we had to stop off for a Chinese takeaway, which made me think maybe everyone wasn’t too serious about helping me out. I mean really, what kind of spy mission stops for king prawn in oyster sauce. However, it turns out that there was a method to the dinner. Not only was everyone hungry, but Goatee thought it would be best for Intern2 and I to go over everything about the books we thought was weird, unusual, or even worth mentioning.
Goatee was on the phone with his brother when we walked in, probably in an attempt to not talk to HarryPotter while Intern2 and I were out. He got off the phone, and we all sat down at the conference table, the New Golden Bell’s finest spread across the table. HarryPotter and Goatee may have kept their silent distance while Intern2 was out picking me up, but once we all sat down to a meal they seemed okay, almost friendly.
There’s a white board in the conference room, so as Intern2 and I went over our duties Goatee scribbled on the board. He didn’t mark everything down, just stuff he thought might be of interest. But after about thirty minutes of this, something became blatantly obvious – I had no idea what I was talking about. If this was my first real admin job and first job working for a publishers, then how was I to know what was out of the ordinary? And as Intern2 would have had more of an inclination as what is normal for a publishers, but had been kept away from the books, he was no help either. So we changed tactic.
I went and got the new intern training manual that I’d made, and we went through it page by page. I’d written a detailed account of what I
do did in the office, so if I’d been doing anything wrong, anything that would help us pin point how NFEditor was stealing money, it would be in there.
Finally we came to the section about outside contractors. When I first started I processed invoices from a copyeditor and a design team for a few books. Luckily this raised a flag. We don’t have outside design contractors. All design work is to be done by HarryPotter. As for copyediting, we have one lady which does copyediting on a freelance basis, and she isn’t the person for which I processed invoices. We finally hit on something.
This continued until we hit onto another quandary. Goatee noticed something off about advances. Some authors get two advance payments (upon signing and upon delivery) while others received three (upon signing, upon deliver and upon publication). I remember thinking that that was kind of mean. Why should some authors get a little extra at publication and others shouldn’t? As it turns out, this is wrong as well. All authors should get three advance payments. NFEditor must have been redirecting the third payment to herself.
Finally, we were hitting on things left and right. I mentioned that there are three or four authors (with an average of three books each) who aren’t placed in any library. I checked on Booksource to see how many books we have left in stock of these authors, and we are clean out of stock. These authors are still on the accounts, some are receiving royalties, others are getting advances for next books, and I’ve seen a number of invoices.
We have a stock of 100 ISBNs we buy at a time, and we assign ISBNs chronologically. So that as a book is commissioned it receives an ISBN. The ISBNs for the mystery books are burried way down the list. We probably wouldn’t use them for at least another year, therefore no one would even notice they were taken for some time.
When we saw this, it was collective realization what she’d been doing. We just needed proof, so we scoured her office. Luckily Intern2 and I tidied her office when TheMenatlist broke in, so we knew exactly where to go to look for things. But unfortunately, we threw a lot of stuff away that now might have been incriminating. HarryPotter can get onto everyone’s computer desktop and into all office emails. No one knew this, and we were all a little nervous when he announced this. Goatee especially looked a little shaky when HarryPotter pulled up NFEditor’s internet history.
We all dug, pulled out files, looked in cabinets and spent several hours going through every piece of paper and email that passed across NFEditor’s desk. We had a couple lucky hits. HarryPotter found copyediting and design invoices on her computer that not only date back prior to my time at MNM, but also show NFEditor as the creator. He also checked her internet buying history. As a lot of the sites save your credit card details as a cookie so that you don’t have to type the number the next time you shop at the site, we discovered she’s bought quite a lot of merchandise with a credit card that ends with the same four digits as the MNM credit card did.
Intern2 found some banks statements tucked away in the bottom of a drawer, all with the names of our missing authors, all at different bank accounts, but with the same sort code.
But we needed more, and that’s when Intern2 remembered that he’d been saving the fax receipts as note paper. He had a huge bankers box fully of fax receipts, and that’s where we found everything we needed. Because the woman doesn’t email, everything we needed on her was recorded as a fax receipt.
Here’s what we have figured out:
We found invoices for copyediting (that were paid into NFEditor) on a legitimate book that was completed well over a year ago. This must have been how ig all started. NFEditor did some legitimate copyediting and decided to invoice for it, rather than just making it a part of her regular duties. Evidently, it’s so easy to put in an invoice and get paid, no one batted an eye, so she started invoicing for copyediting and design work that was done in house. Eventually, she stopped using her own name and address and started setting up fake contacts.
She got greedy quickly, because she then started setting up fake books. She was getting paid for copyediting, design work, and some times even printing jobs, for books that don’t even exist (eventhough they do have ISBNs and are registered with Neilson). This led to her processing (or having me and other interns process) advances and royalties for books that were never even produced. Before anyone realised it, there were four fake authors on the books, each with three to four books a piece.
She then went on to steal from real authors who were newly contracted with MNM. She’s send them an author contract stating that they’d get two advance payments, but then send a regular author contract (with a forged signature of course) for three advance payments to home office. Most of this she did via fax. Rather than email the author the contract, which they would then print out, sign and return; she would fax them a copy. (Or more likely, fax a copy to some ancient place with a fax machine and the poor author had to sit theire waiting for a fax like a chump.) Then as it’s company policy to store signed author contracts at home office, but keep a copy here, she’d just keep a copy of the fake three advance contract.
The only thing we couldn’t figure out was how she opened up so many bank accounts. All the fake authors, fake copyediting assignments, and so on were under different bank accounts with the appropriate name of the fake author or contractor. But as someone had pointed out that they all had the same sort code, they all were based from the same local branch…in the Highlands…where NFEditor’s brother works as a bank manager…and I had his business card. (Remember, he skeezed on me and gave me his card.) That was it. We had all the proof.
When we realised that we’d sussed it, it was unbelievable. We jumped about like loons – or HarryPotter, Intern2 and I jumped about like loons, Goatee kept his usual composure. It was nearly 4am, but we were wired. I can’t believe what we achieved. I felt so alive, and clever and smart and I want to be a cop. Figuring this all out was actually kind of fun, like a big puzzle. What an unbelievable rush. It was so crazy.
Goatee said he’d take everything to the police. He’d call Boobs in the morning. We put everything in Goatee’s car, including the hard drive to the computer. HarryPotter suggested we leave everything here and call the police in. But Intern2 and Goatee agreed that before someone came into the office, NFEditor could come back and destroy evidence. It would be best if we brought the evidence to the police.
We got home and I crashed straight away. I only woke up a few hours ago — I hate it when I do this. It throws off my sleep cycle. Oh wait, it doesn’t matter if I throw off my sleep cycle, I don’t have to go into the office any longer. Yippie.
I rang Goatee to see how things went when he talked to Boobs. He didn’t answer, so I texted. Got a message back saying that ‘Everything iss underway. It’s all getting sorted.’ I cannot wait until that little bitch gets hers. She so deserves to go down.