Page 241


Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   even more anxious about the risks. Perhaps the death threat threw him

   over the edge. He couldn't really understand why he had turned himself

   in to the police. It had just sort of happened.

  

   The Victoria Police notified the AFP. The AFP detectives must have

   been slapping their heads in frustration. Here was Australia's next

   big hacker case after The Realm, and they had expected to make a clean

   bust. They had names, addresses, phone numbers. They had jumped

   through legal hoops to get a telephone tap. The tap was up and

   running, catching every target computer, every plot, every word the

   hackers said to each other. Then one of their targets goes and turns

   himself in to the police. And not even to the right police--he goes to

   the Victoria Police. In one fell swoop, the hacker was going to take

   down the entire twelve-month Operation Weather investigation.

  

   The AFP had to move quickly. If Trax tipped off the other two IS

   hackers that he had called the police, they might destroy their notes,

   computer files--all the evidence the AFP had hoped to seize in raids.

  

   When the AFP swooped in on the three hackers, Mendax and Prime Suspect

   had refused to be interviewed on the night. Trax, however, had spent

   several hours talking to the police at his house.

  

   He told the other IS hackers that the police had threatened to take

   him down to AFP headquarters--despite the fact that they knew leaving

   his house caused him anxiety. Faced with that prospect, made so

   terrifying by his psychiatric illness, he had talked.

  

   Prime Suspect and Mendax didn't know how much Trax had told the

   police, but they didn't believe he would dob them in completely. Apart

   from anything else, he hadn't been privy to much of his colleagues'

   hacking. They hadn't tried to exclude Trax, but he was not as

   sophisticated a hacker and therefore didn't share in many of their

   exploits.

  

   In fact, one thing Trax did tell the police was just how sophisticated

   the other two IS hackers had become just prior to the bust. Prime

   Suspect and Mendax were, he said, `hackers on a major scale, on a huge

   scale--something never achieved before', and the AFP had sat up and

   taken notice.

  

   After the raids, Trax told Mendax that the AFP had tried to recruit

   him as an informant. Trax said that they had even offered him a new

   computer system, but he had been non-committal. And it seemed the AFP

   was still keeping tabs on the IS hackers, Trax also told Mendax. The

   AFP officers had heard Mendax had gone into hospital and they were

   worried. There seemed to be a disturbing pattern evolving.

  

   On the subject of the IS raids, Trax told Mendax that the AFP felt it

   didn't have any choice. Their attitude was: you were doing so much, we

   had to bust you. You were inside so many systems, it was getting out

   of control.

  

   In any case, by December 1991 Mendax had agreed to a police interview,

   based on legal advice. Ken Day interviewed Mendax, and the hacker was

   open with Day about what he had done. He refused, however, to

   implicate either Trax or Prime Suspect. In February 1992, Prime

   Suspect followed suit, with two interviews. He was also careful about

   what he said regarding his fellow hackers. Mendax was interviewed a

   second time, in February 1992, as was Trax in August.