Chapter 7 Page 2 of 2

I scrolled down further in the log and eventually reached the end of the error messages and the beginning of my replays. Following my 893 replayed messages were the responses from First Chicago. The bank accepted all of the replayed EFT’s. And why not? Since the EFT’s had not yet been recieved in uncorrupted form, this was the first time the bank was seeing them. By replaying the messages I had inadvertantly corrected the situation! The appropriate action following a catastrophic communications failure where all of the messages are garbled is to wait a short time and then resend all of the messages. I had done that for them.

So why had the people at First Chicago been in such an uproar over extra copies of the messages? What extra copies? And what did my tinkering have to do with the illegitimate payments? How had I enabled those?

Puzzled, I leaned back in my chair, an old wooden straight-back chair in desperate need of glue. It creaked loudly and the legs wobbled with more play than they should. The bare 60-watt lightbulb in the socket over my head was burning with a dirty yellow color, reminding me that I should replace it soon. The room was gloomy, with only that one light-bulb and the computer monitor to illuminate it. I stared at the information glowing from the screen. The folding card-table upon which the computer sat was littered with old notes and printouts, most of which I had long since forgotten the purpose for making. There where two mugs, each half filled with cold coffee. One sat precariously atop a slanted stack of papers while the other occupied one of the few spots of bare table surface.

Aha! Suddenly the events that must have transpired clicked in my head. The St. Louis bank would have recieved the error messages from First Chicago. Therefore those EFT’s would have been resent by the St. Louis bank. It stands to reason that the bank would have taken corrective action after getting the error messages. I couldn’t confirm this with certainty because I had neglected to record any traffic subsequent to the one session, but I had no doubt now that the sending bank must have resent the messages at a later date, probably the next day. So both Bendix and I resent the EFT’s. Hence the extra copies. Since my copy got there first, the Bendix replay must have been rejected by First Chicago… except for the two mysterious EFT’s on Lisa’s account.

I sighed and pushed the keyboard away. I had come full circle. What was so special about those two EFT’s? Lisa said they weren’t legit. Fine. I would have to assume that they were forgeries.

What reason could there be for First Chicago to reject each and every EFT? Could they all really have been garbled? How?

No, the more likely explanation was deliberate interference by some individual. Hardware glitches and electrical storms would not cause such systematic corruption. Or, another possibility was that First Chicago chose to reject the EFT’s for some reason and claimed that the messages were garbled as an excuse. Why a bank would do this I could not fathom. I suspected that the answer to the strange goings-on of the week before lay with the error messages from First Chicago; if I could explain those, then perhaps I would be able to explain the special treatment of Ms. Cryer’s transactions.

I yawned and rubbed my eyes. The chair creaked some more. The clock over the kitchen table read 11:55. Tired and confused, I decided to call it a night. I ran the screen-lock but left all the windows open so I could resume where I had left off. I left all of the printouts on the kitchen table as well. Perhaps after some sleep and with a fresh start in the morning I would be able to make more sense of the strange symptoms I was seeing. What happened on July 11th? After listening to voice conversations at the bank, reviewing recorded EFT traffic, and talking to the prime suspect in the case, I was still baffled.