“Dammit, we have to do something.” This was Agnes.
Fisk’s reaction was more calm. H3 was undeterred. “Fine. I can understand that. What about the other program?”
I stepped forward. “The other program takes a very different approach. Rather than try to trace the stolen money through the network, we look at each bank account in isolation. In this way we circumvent the inherant inefficiencies in the problem. BIF ignores the flow of money and instead focuses on the activity in individual bank accounts. Bank accounts are analized in isolation, without worrying about the inter-action between multiple accounts. We try to identify suspicious activity in individual accounts.”
Fisk drummed his fingers on his desk and, with his chin resting in the palm of his other hand, stared sternly at the Mahogany surface. “OK, what about our newest discovery? We now know how the attack is being carried out. How does that help us? Surely that makes is easier.”
“Mr. Fisk?” It was the squawk of the intercom on his desk. Everybody except Fisk startled at the high volume and annoyingly nasal sound. “Lisa Cryer of SoftTykes is on the phone.”
“Put her on the speaker-phone,” came the excited reply. Fisk rubbed his hands together as a he leaned forward on this desk.
“Hello?” It was Lisa. She sounded hesitent. No doubt she had not been supplied with much of an explanation from the secretary, given that the secretary himself had been given no explanation for the requested phone call. “Hello Ms. Cryer. Sorry to interrupt you at the office. Hopefully you can spare a few moments to discuss an important matter with us. My name is Charles Fisk. I work for the FBI. I have a few questions for you concerning a computer program you have written for us. With me in the room are Agnes Brown, James Carter, and a gentleman named Carl Raymond.”
Lisa said nothing immediately so Fisk continued, getting straight to the point. He sat back in his chair and swiveled side-ways so that he could direct his comments towards the rest of us in the room while still turning his head toward the microphone on the speaker-phone.
“How hard would it be,” he asked, “to modify your program so that it could discover bank accounts like the ones it already finds, but where there is an unusually large number of payments to a political campaign fund?”
Lisa’s anwer was more conservative than mine. She was hesitent with her reply. “The limits to the sorts of profiles we can test are imposed by the expressive power of the rule language,” she explained. “No doubt some profiles will require extensions to the language, which could take considerable time.”
“What about the example I just gave you,” pressed Fisk. “Could you do that one without any major extensions to your language, or whatever.”
“Yes, that one we can do. We would need a list of political groups and funds.”
“Then let’s do it immediately.” Fisk turned to Agnes. “We should pursue this case along conventional lines as well as the high-tech approach you are already using. Talk to Burns and have him assign one of his top profilers to this case full-time. I want an accurate profile. Have Burns’ man make full use of this program of Lisa’s to test various hypotheses. Let’s get moving on this. I’m assigning this top priority. Tomorrow I will meet with Samuelson to discuss this case and I want something positive to report. At the very least, I want to be able to tell him we have some promising leads.”
Fisk hunched over the speaker-phone. Enunciating carefully for Lisa’s benefit, he asked, “What about net-zero accounts where the bulk of the payments are directed to a specific country?”
“That one won’t be so easy,” came the reply over the phone. “You see we have certain parameters that we already have set up to measure… things like the payee and payer for an EFT, the paying and recieving bank, the amount, the date, and so on. The country of origin or the destination country happens to be a parameter that we do not already have defined. It will require writing a small amount of code to pull that information out of the EFT message format and store it in a way that it can be accessed by BIF. That requires changes to the parser that processes the EFT’s. Then we have to extend the rule language of BIF to include predicates on the country parameter.”
Lisa could not see the blank stare that began to settle in on Fisk’s face, but perhaps she could sense it; she paused momentarily and then summed up quickly. “It shouldn’t be hard, but it won’t be as easy as your first example,” she said abruptly.