“Did they tell you anything else that might be helpful?” I asked hopefully, pressing for more clues. “Anything that might help limit our scope?”
She furrowed her brow and said nothing for quite some time. Her gaze was cast downward at the table. “Not really. They were being very careful not to say anything more than they had to.”
The fact that the bank was reluctant to discuss the matter only added to my suspicions about the bank’s role in this entire matter. I felt that executives at First Chicago Trust were too zealous in their pursuit of Ms. Cryer. In phone conversations with the FBI these bankers claimed that internal security at the bank was iron-clad and that they only hired people of the highest moral character. They would not even listen to suggestions of a possible inside job. Instead, they pointed accusing fingers toward Lisa Cryer, a customer that I had a hard time imagining anybody viewing as a threat. I can understand being careful to view each suspect with objectivity, but how could they be so certain that she had tampered with the EFT’s from the outside?
Lisa interrupted my thoughts. “Do you really think you will be able to unravel this mess? Can you solve the mystery even when the banks can’t? You don’t have access to the same level of information they do.”
“Well, I do have a formal education in the study of cryptographic protocols. I do consulting work in the area. At the moment I don’t have any contracts. The last four months have been a dry spell. Therefore, I am not privy to the details of the internal workings of wholesale banking. I have to work with whatever information is made public — which is quite a bit — and whatever other information I can collect by less honorable methods.
“In the beginning I started out by introducing errors in more mundane ways. For example I introduced bad payments into the ACH check clearing system simply by bouncing checks. I would intentionally write a bad check and then monitor the EFT activity to see how it was handled in the EFT protocols.
“I had to stop after the bank began to take exception,” I added. I couldn’t help but chuckle as I recalled the episode where the bank called me in to ask why I kept writing overdrafts on one of my accounts when I had more than adequate funds in my other account to cover the checks.
Lisa slumped back in her chair and rested her chin in her hand, her elbow was perched on the edge of the table. “Uh, Carl,” she said, “why don’t you have a normal job like the rest of us? Bouncing checks and hacking phone lines is not computer science.”
Her eyes twinkled with amusement. Such beautiful eyes they were too. She seemed to be enjoying our dinner. We had both long since finished eating but neither one seemed anxious to leave. After catching up on some much needed sleep in the park and filling up on good food and wine, I was feeling reinvigorated. It was a pleasant dinner until Lisa mentioned Psuedo-One as an example of one of the many new Internet companies that are on top of things. My disgust for Psuedo-One would not permit me to let that comment go by uncontested.