Following the meeting in Washington D.C. it was decided that the money mill could not be permitted to continue. The risks were simply too great. The FBI and ABA had to stop the mill, at any cost. This meant that first and foremost the key translation server had to be shut down. This would stop the current string of thefts immediately. Of course a longer term solution was needed to prevent future attacks of a similar nature. The X9.17 protocol would need to be amended, but that could wait until after a careful review process.
I had briefed Rudy Levinski on the meeting early the next morning. He had left a handwritten note on my pillow while I was out of town. It made me somewhat uneasy to know that he had been in my apartment in my absence. Could I really trust him? What did I really know about him? Didn’t he fit the FBI profile rather well? He is a loner. he is a bank employee working in the EFT department. He lives in the United States but is a foreign national, European even. This certainly fit the FBI profile.
Rudy was an enigma. Weather willingly or not, he had helped Lampley tamper with EFT payments on behalf of First chicago. Later he had helped analize the forgeries and had been the first to realize the workings of the mill. Yet he had done this only after Lisa and I had forced his hand. Now, he was helping with the case by providing us with valuable characterizations of illicit EFT traffic. His rules for the BIF program were proving quite valuable. There was reason to believe that his rules might finally break the case. Pretty soon we would be able to pipe the output from BIF into deep-throat and let it crunch on the graph. Lisa was about to install a new patch for BIF that might push us over the hump. This patch had potential. Also, the NSA had very nearly completed their parallel implementation of deep-throat. We just needed a little more time… more time to finish implementing the changes to the programs, and more time to let the computers crunch.
I still had not made up my mind how to deal with Rudy when Lisa and I arrived at Jonny’s office the next day. It was early in the afternoon on a dreary day. We had trotted through a drizzle to cover the short distance from her car to the front entrance of the E. M. Dirksen Federal Office Building in Chicago.
Now, as we stood in Jonny’s office, I was on the phone with Leon Anderson. Leon is a Federal Reserve Board staffer. He had called Jonny but was now talking to me while Jonny and Lisa held a quiet conversation at Jonny’s desk. Leon was explaining to me the bulliten that the Fed had sent to all banks that morning. Ironically the bulliten was distributed over the same data network that is used for EFT’s. I had already read a printed copy of the bulliten; Jonny had shown it to Lisa and me the moment we entered his office. It now lay on his desk.
“Everybody,” came Leon’s gravelly voice over the phone. It was in response to my query about which banks had recieved notification of the shutdown. “The bulliten should have cascaded down through the entire EFT network by now.”
“This is really going to grind the economy to a halt,” I muttered. I masaged my face with the hand not holding the phone and absently watched Lisa giving Jonny a tutorial on C programming. The two of them sat on the other side of the room hunched over the latest listings for deep-throat. “The banks must be raising hell,” I said into the phone. “Are any of them demanding explanations?”
“The banks are fine until the end of business today,” he explained. “In fact some banks should be able to make minor adjustments before then.”
“What do you mean?”
“They have a few hours. The EFT system will remain in operation for the remainder of the day. The service will be stopped first thing tomorrow morning…”
He went on talking but I was no longer listening. I felt a chill start at my head and work its way down my back all the way to me feet. I actually shivered. I felt dizzy. I turned to Lisa. My throat was dry and I had a hard time speaking the words that followed.
“It’s not down,” I choked out. “The announcement has gone out but it’s not down. Everybody knows but it’s not down.”
Lisa stared back, not saying anything. She backed up slowly to the desk behind her. She gently bumped into the desk and reached down with one hand to support herself as she sat on the corner of the desk. She understood my fear. Jonny didn’t. He looked at me, then at her, and then back to me again.