Chapter 9 Page 4 of 5

Should I tell her of my worst fears? I was the one that had dragged her into all of this in the first place. I hadn’t given her much opportunity to distance herself from the affair from the beginning and had given her every opportunity to become enmeshed further. Didn’t I have a moral obligation to inform her of the risks as best as I could evaluate them? On the other hand I really didn’t have any basis for making a firm evaluation myself. She had the same information I had. Wouldn’t it be disrepectful and condescending to presume that she couldn’t make her own determination of the personal risk involved. Still…

“Lisa, I think you should consider the possibility that there may be some very desperate people involved in this situation,” I said.

“It does sound like the scope has broadened a bit,” she agreed. “Do you think the man in the car was on the side of law enforcement or on the other side?” she asked.

This is exactly what had been troubling me the most. Now that we had evidence that EFT tampering was rampant, I couldn’t discount the possibility that a large gang of thieves or even the Mafia, was in on the action. Given my choice, I would much rather be hounded by the FBI than the Mafia. The FBI operated under some legal restrictions; the Mafia had very few constraints. With bank executives involved in the delay scam, some very powerful people were operating on the wrong side of the law. Who might be working with them?

Our food arrived shortly thereafter. Once again the swordfish was excellent. Lisa had ordered the Fillet of Sole this time and reported that it too was very good. I had taken the liberty to order a bottle of wine with our meal. I felt more at ease now that I’d aired my concerns and Lisa accepted the situation. I poured the wine and was about to offer a toast to friendship and happenstance but Lisa interrupted me before I started and proposed a toast to our progress on the case and to petty thieves who interfere with the lives of innocent people. She chuckled softly as she sipped the wine. Then, as she set her glass back down, she asked me what I intended to do about the delay scam. I was still undecided. The safest and perhaps wisest approach would be to go straight to the FBI. However, I had hopes that by confronting Mr. Levinski I could learn whatever secrets he may have and enlist his help in tracking down the perpetrator. I was no longer eager to go it alone; I needed all the help I could get.

“How much money do you figure a bank could steal by delaying?” asked Lisa. “These are pretty serious charges you are making. Are you sure of yourself?”

“There is no way that those EFT’s were corrupted by natural causes,” I exclaimed. “The TCP/IP headers made it through, yet each and every payload failed despite error correction in the modems and in the TCP/IP protocol.” I made these comments to re-establish my own convictions as much as to convince Lisa. She was right; these were serious charges. I looked around the room uneasily. I wondered if we should be talking so openly about the case in public and suggested to Lisa that we switch to a more mundane topic.

“Carl,” she said with some annoyance, “look around. The closest people to us are thirty feet away and if they look like spies to you then you certainly have a great deal of respect for the creativity of the FBI in developing disguises.”

She was right. The party closest to us consisted of an elderly couple seated on the other side of the room. The man was very nearly entirely bald, with only a bit of grey hair near his ears. The women had powdered white hair tied in a bun. She was quite short and stocky whereas the man was tall and stocky. Both wore glasses. They had a small boy with them. My guess is that he was between four and seven years old. They appeared to be grandparents on an outing with their grandson. This impression was reinforced by the manner in which the older two listened patiently and attentively as the boy slowly and carefully recounted a long tale of some sort. I was too far away to make out the words, but I could hear well enough to know that there were frequent pauses and what sounded like revisions to the narrative.

Not only did the elderly couple look as wholesome and innocuous as can be, but it was hard to imagine that the FBI was recruiting young children for surveillance operations. OK, I was being paranoid.

“Still, if you’d rather talk about something else, that’s fine by me,” Lisa offered. “I’d welcome the change. A girl can’t live, eat, and breathe electronic banking crime. Or at least I can’t.

“Tell me about your job at AT&T. Why did you leave?” she asked. Then, when I didn’t reply immediately she quickly apologized. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry. If you don’t want to talk about that we can talk about something else. I was just making conversation.”

“No I don’t mind,” I re-assured her. “I hesitated only because it’s a long story and I wasn’t sure where to begin.”