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Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   suburban streets in the middle of the night with computers, alligator

   clips and battery adaptors in tow, but that didn't matter so much. In

   fact, the thrill of such a cloak-and-dagger operation was as good as

   the actual hacking itself. It was illicit. In the phreakers' own eyes,

   it was clever. And therefore it was fun.

  

   Craig Bowen didn't think much of the Phreakers Five's style of

   phreaking. In fact, the whole growth of phreaking as a pastime

   depressed him a bit. He believed it just didn't require the technical

   skills of proper hacking. Hacking was, in his view, about the

   exploration of a brave new world of computers. Phreaking was, well, a

   bit beneath a good hacker. Somehow it demeaned the task at hand.

  

   Still, he could see how in some cases it was necessary in order to

   continue hacking. Most people in the underground developed some basic

   skills in phreaking, though people like Bowen always viewed it more as

   a means to an end--just a way of getting from computer A to computer

   B, nothing more. Nonetheless, he allowed phreaking discussion areas in

   the private sections of PI.

  

   What he refused to allow was discussion areas around credit card

   fraud. Carding was anathema to Bowen and he watched with alarm as some

   members of the underground began to shift from phreaking into carding.

  

   Like the transition into phreaking, the move into carding was a

   logical progression. It occurred over a period of perhaps six months

   in 1988 and was as obvious as a group of giggling schoolgirls.

  

   Many phreakers saw it simply as another type of phreaking. In fact it

   was a lot less hassle than manipulating some company's PABX. Instead,

   you just call up an operator, give him some stranger's credit card

   number to pay for the call, and you were on your way. Of course, the

   credit cards had a broader range of uses than the PABXes. The advent

   of carding meant you could telephone your friends in the US or UK and

   have a long voice conference call with all of them

   simultaneously--something which could be a lot tougher to arrange on a

   PABX. There were other benefits. You could actually charge things with

   that credit card. As in goods. Mail order goods.

  

   One member of the underground who used the handle Ivan Trotsky,

   allegedly ordered $50000 worth of goods, including a jet ski, from the

   US on a stolen card, only to leave it sitting on the Australian docks.

   The Customs guys don't tend to take stolen credit cards for duty

   payments. In another instance, Trotsky was allegedly more successful.

   A try-hard hacker who kept pictures of Karl Marx and Lenin taped to

   the side of his computer terminal, Trotsky regularly spewed communist

   doctrine across the underground. A self-contained paradox, he spent

   his time attending Communist Party of Australia meetings and duck

   shoots. According to one hacker, Trotsky's particular contribution to

   the overthrow of the capitalist order was the arrangement of a

   shipment of expensive modems from the US using stolen credit cards. He

   was rumoured to have made a tidy profit by selling the modems in the

   computer community for about $200 each. Apparently, being part of the

   communist revolution gave him all sorts of ready-made

   rationalisations. Membership has its advantages.

  

   To Bowen, carding was little more than theft. Hacking may have been a

   moral issue, but in early 1988 in Australia it was not yet much of a

   legal one. Carding was by contrast both a moral and a legal issue.

   Bowen recognised that some people viewed hacking as a type of