He listened without comment as Agnes told him that our banking system has a security hole large enough to funnel out billions of dollars. He was a portly man, in his early 50’s. His hair was beginning to thin at the top. He had a strong air of authority about him. I later learned that his name is Charles Fisk and that he is head of the Chicago office of the FBI. His responsibilities include general oversight of all Midwest operations. He had been appointed to the post only six months prior to that meeting and was still getting used to Agnes’ no-nonsense style. He tended to keep the reigns loose on people under him, Agnes especially. Now, though, he wanted a full status report and wanted the details on all leads. No sooner did Agnes finish explaining the flaw (as best she could (I did not dare correct her)) than Fisk wanted a run-down on all of the suspects.
“What have you got so far?” he asked.
Agnes took a deep breath and glanced toward Jonny. “Our best leads at this point are going to be whatever we get from a computer program that was written by a young woman that was an early victem.”
“Yeah, you told me about that. You mean Cryer. What was her first name?”
Agnes was referring of course to the program that Lisa, Rudy, and I had written. Actually we had written a pair of programs, but I was sure Mrs. Brown was talking about BIF and not Deep Throat. Of course Agnes would have been unaware of Rudy’s recent contributions to BIF. Jonny took a step forward and began to explain to Fisk the findings of BIF. I was surprised at the amount of success the FBI had already had with the program. With the help of BIF, the FBI had found a bank account at Chase Manhatten that was being used to funnel a large number of EFT’s that they believed to be counterfiet. Like many other accounts, this account had a large volume of money passing through with the account balance remaining roughly level. On any given day, the deposits into the account were nearly equal to the withdrawals. This despite the fact that tens of thousands of dollars were passing through the account daily.
What made this account especially interesting was that many of the payments were directed to a bank account in France. Could this account be one of the main arteries out of the country? It was the first solid evidence we had of laundering. Money was apparently being laundered through this account and then shipped overseas. Although they had not yet confirmed it, the FBI was convinced that they would find that the next destination for the money, after the French bank, would be a bank in Switzerland. Fisk immediately urged Agnes to have her agents confirm this as soon a possible.
“We are working on it,” she replied. She swept her hair off her forehead and out of her eyes. With a nod to Jonny, she said to Fisk, “the most interesting thing about these forgeries that Agent Carter has described is not so much where the money is headed, but rather where it came from.”
Fisk raised an eyebrow and turned to Jonny. In response to this cue, Jonny continued.
“We traced the money backward through the EFT network. When we did this we discovered that much of the money that was being routed to the French account was stolen from the accounts for a Major League baseball team — not borrowed but stolen. All of the other forgeries we have seen have been loans. As you know, the way the mill works is that the hacker borrows money from lots of accounts and promptly returns it. Usually within 24 hours. Sometimes, just to throw us off the trail, the money is returned even sooner, in which case there is no loan — just laundering. We have even seen cases where the money is deposited a day or two before it is withdrawn. This is why it so hard to trace the counterfeit money. There is no pattern to it and most of it is only borrowed.
“The baseball team’s bank account is the first example we have found of an outright theft. We figured all along that such accounts must exist. After all, the millwright has to seed his operations somehow. Now we have an example. We think that the choice of accounts is not random.”
I was baffled. Why would a computer hacker single out a baseball team as a target?
Agnes answered my unvoiced question. Speaking to Fisk, she said, “We are developing a profile. We believe the subject is a young male computer professional, a loner. He probably does not have an active social life. He appears to have a great deal of time to devote to devising clever ways to undermine our banking infrastructure… not to mention the time to operate the mill on a daily basis. It is likely that he is lacking athletic prowess. Perhaps he harbors some resentment toward professional athletes.”