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   Citibank, one of the biggest financial institutions in the US.

  

   Gavin didn't have many details to give Force. All he knew was that an

   American law enforcement agency--probably the Secret Service--had been

   putting enormous pressure on the Australian government to bust these

   people.

  

   What Gavin didn't know was that the Secret Service wasn't the only

   source of pressure coming from the other side of the Pacific. The FBI

   had also approached the Australian Federal Police about the mysterious

   but noisy Australian hackers who kept breaking into American systems,5

   and the AFP had acted on the information.

  

   In late 1989, Detective Superintendent Ken Hunt of the AFP headed an

   investigation into the Melbourne hackers. It was believed to be the

   first major investigation of computer crime since the introduction of

   Australia's first federal anti-hacking laws. Like most law enforcement

   agencies around the world, the AFP were new players in the field of

   computer crime. Few officers had expertise in computers, let alone

   computer crime, so this case would prove to be an important proving

   ground.6

  

   When Gavin broke the news, Force acted immediately. He called Phoenix

   on the phone, insisting on meeting him in person as soon as possible.

   As their friendship had progressed, they had moved from talking

   on-line to telephone conversations and finally to spending time

   together in person. Force sat Phoenix down alone and gave him a stern

   warning. He didn't tell him how he got his information, but he made it

   clear the source was reliable.

  

   The word was that the police felt they had to bust someone. It had

   come to the point where an American law enforcement officer had

   reportedly told his Australian counterpart, `If you don't do something

   about it soon, we'll do something about it ourselves'. The American

   hadn't bothered to elaborate on just how they might do something about

   it, but it didn't matter.

  

   Phoenix looked suddenly pale. He had certainly been very noisy, and

   was breaking into systems virtually all the time now. Many of those

   systems were in the US.

  

   He certainly didn't want to end up like the West German hacker

   Hagbard, whose petrol-doused, charred remains had been discovered in a

   German forest in June 1989.

  

   An associate of Pengo's, Hagbard had been involved in a ring of German

   hackers who sold the information they found in American computers to a

   KGB agent in East Germany from 1986 to 1988.

  

   In March 1989, German police raided the homes and offices of the

   German hacking group and began arresting people. Like Pengo, Hagbard

   had secretly turned himself into the German authorities months before

   and given full details of the hacking ring's activities in the hope of

   gaining immunity from prosecution.

  

   American law enforcement agencies and prosecutors had not been

   enthusiastic about showing the hackers any leniency. Several US

   agencies, including the CIA and the FBI, had been chasing the German

   espionage ring and they wanted stiff sentences, preferably served in

   an American prison.