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Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   Bleary-eyed and exhausted after a long night at the computer, Par felt

   like calling it quits. The sun had splashed through the windows of his

   Salinas, California, apartment hours ago. His living room was a mess,

   with empty, upturned beer cans circling his Apple IIe. Par gave up for

   a while, caught some shut-eye. He had gone through the entire list of

   possible addresses, knocking at all the doors, and nothing had

   happened. But over the next few days he returned to scanning the

   network again. He decided to be more methodical about it and do the

   whole thing from scratch a second time.

  

   He was part way through the second scan when it happened. Par's

   computer connected to something. He sat up and peered toward the

   screen. What was going on? He checked the address. He was sure he had

   tried this one before and nothing had answered. Things were definitely

   getting strange. He stared at his computer.

  

   The screen was blank, with the cursor blinking silently at the top.

   Now what? What had Force done to get the computer to sing its song?

  

   Par tried pressing the control key and a few different letters.

   Nothing. Maybe this wasn't the right address after all. He

   disconnected from the machine and carefully wrote down the address,

   determined to try it again later.

  

   On his third attempt, he connected again but found the same irritating

   blank screen. This time he went through the entire alphabet with the

   control key.

  

   Control L.

  

   That was the magic keystroke. The one that made CitiSaudi give up its

   mysterious cache. The one that gave Par an adrenalin rush, along with

   thousands and thousands of cards. Instant cash, flooding his screen.

   He turned on the screen capture so he could collect all the

   information flowing past and analyse it later. Par had to keep feeding

   his little Apple IIe more disks to store all the data coming in

   through his 1200 baud modem.

  

   It was magnificent. Par savoured the moment, thinking about how much

   he was going to enjoy telling Force. It was going to be sweet. Hey,

   Aussie, you aren't the only show in town. See ya in Citibank.

  

   An hour or so later, when the CitiSaudi data dump had finally

   finished, Par was stunned at what he found in his capture. These

   weren't just any old cards. These were debit cards, and they were held

   by very rich Arabs. These people just plopped a few million in a bank

   account and linked a small, rectangular piece of plastic to that

   account. Every charge came directly out of the bank balance. One guy

   listed in the data dump bought a $330,000 Mercedes Benz in

   Istanbul--on his card. Par couldn't imagine being able to throw down a

   bit of plastic for that. Taking that plastic out for a spin around the

   block would bring a whole new meaning to the expression, `Charge it!'

  

   When someone wins the lottery, they often feel like sharing with their

   friends. Which is exactly what Par did. First, he showed his

   room-mates. They thought it was very cool. But not nearly so cool as

   the half dozen hackers and phreakers who happened to be on the

   telephone bridge Par frequented when the master of X.25 read off a

   bunch of the cards.