Voting for episode 5 ended October 11th, 2013. The majority of readers voted for this to happen next: Rob meets with the FBI man; finds details of FBI’s plan to snare criminals; decides to warn his father.
-Day 5, cont’d.-
Rob felt better after telling Detective Fry about his father’s owning the porn-laden computer. When Fry left, Rob returned the call from Catherine Moore, the owner of the computer store. What a find she was! She’d found two more computers with a lot of porn on them so they arranged for Rob to stop by the shop on his way home.
His meeting with the Michel Sharpe, the FBI man, wasn’t until ten so he went outside and returned the ‘silver streak’ to the barn, with thanks to the men there. He was pleased they’d saved a pickup truck for him that looked like a game warden’s vehicle.
Rob had no idea how long the meeting with Sharpe would be but decided that afterward he’d go look for another computer shop that would be willing to help.
It was nice out and he had time to kill so he walked to the diner. Funny, when he got there he looked in the window and there were men at three different tables who looked like FBI guys on TV shows: serious men in gray suits. Rob thought about it and approached a man in a booth near the back of the diner who looked like Barney Fife: thin, nervous, pale, dressed in polyester.
He walked over to the table. “Hi, you Sharpe?”
The man looked up. He was chewing a toothpick. “Yah. How’dya know:”
“You don’t look like a TV FBI guy.”
“Most of us don’t. So sit”
Sharpe gave Rob a thick folder. “Here’s some background material. Do you know what we’re doing?”
“Not exactly. The chief just told me to find computers with lots of porn on them. Don’t even know how much is ‘lots’.
“I’m not surprised. Your chief is something else. We’ve given him tons of information. The short answer is any porn collection that takes over 100 gigabytes is what we’re after – it’s not a whole lot, but we find that’s a good cutoff point.”
Sharpe signaled for his check and continued, “We developed a method of finding sources of kiddie porn that we’re now using for legal porn. We get huge databases of users and then the computer finds connections between them all. It’s all that metadata magic. We find we can locate heads of criminal activities who are the smart ones. They’ve never been arrested. They don’t throw money around, have families and legitimate jobs. But they run huge crime organizations. Their connections to any one criminal can be explained as legitimate business or a believable social activity – but when their connections to criminals builds into the hundreds, it’s worth looking at. Now, have you found any big users yet?”
“I’ve found a shop that’ll look for me. The owner just called and said she had two big users. But I don’t know if they’ll meet your cutoff value though. I’m going there this evening.”
“Great. Look, no matter how big the collection I want you to use these discs.” Sharpe handed Rob a box. ” Slip a disc into a computer and It pulls out the porn data plus search history and all sorts of stuff. It sucks the data out and doesn’t leave a trace. Then you put the disc in your computer and it dumps the data over to us. Use each disc just once. It takes maybe ten minutes per computer. Piece of cake.”
“Let’s leave it at that. You use this box of discs; when you’ve sent me all the data from these we’ll meet again. Thanks. Glad the Chief finally got someone on this.” Sharpe rapped his knuckles on the table, stood and left.
Rob sat thinking about his father. Fry warned him not to tell him anything, but it was his father. There was a pay phone outside the diner so he went outside to use it.
The phone rang several times. “H’lo.”
“Dad. It’s me, Rob.”
“Robby. Hey! How’s it going? I’ve been meaning to catch up but I’ve been out of town most days lately.”
“That’s what Mum says. Hey, I’ve got to talk to you.”
Rob looked around, it looked safe. “Dad. I’m working on a porn case and I found an old computer of yours that had a ton of it.”
“So? It’s legal you know.”
“I know Dad. But just listen. The FBI has a fancy computer program that’s tying porn users to crimes. I just wanted to give you a head’s up. That’s all. If you have porn on your computer now I’d dump it.”
‘I’ve got nothing to do with any crime, Son.” His voice was icy and loud.
“Dad. I just don’t want you suspected, that’s all. You know how things can get.”
‘Well. Thanks… I guess. Oh… other phone. Gotta go. Bye.”
Rob hung up, worried. Dad sounded strange, like I’ve done something wrong. He couldn’t be into crime. Could he? Maybe he was just embarrassed about the porno.