It was a busy day today in the airport cafe. Monday at noon. Business travelers frantically made their way from one terminal to another and some stopped briefly for a quick cup of coffee to keep them going on their start of the work week. Others had a layover and enjoyed a cup of coffee in a ceramic mug instead of a paper cup. Some of them had pastries too. But, all of them had a laptop. And, they all tapped into the same wifi signal to access the internet while they waited for their next flight. And, that is where I came in.
A degree in computer engineering sounded so promising when I started out. But, I soon realized that I would be cooped up in a lab all day coding some program that didn’t really matter for some people that I would never meet or care about. So, I dropped out. Then came the problem of money. Honestly, who wants a washed out computer engineer? Nobody. I did learn one thing while attending school though. I was exceptionally good with a computer. Good enough that I never paid attention in classes and still aced all of them easily. The counselors were confused when I left the school. What they didn’t know was that I had better job prospects. Where you ask? Right here in this airport cafe.
I opened my laptop and pressed a key to wake the screen. I clicked around for a few seconds and then I watched a long list of data flow in front of my eyes. Every single network request that all those innocent business people were logging on their computer. I watched some people check their emails. Others were reading the news. And then, there it was. Somebody logging into their bank account. I watched them type in their login and password. I jotted the info down on an open notepad file. They finished the login process and then I saw the jackpot. 1.23 million dollars of it. I covered my mouth to hide the smile that stretched across my face. I saved the notepad file and sat back in my chair. My rent for the next year was going to be paid off.
I opened up a browser window to log into the bank account. And that’s when I noticed the first problem. A slight screen flicker. Nothing too noticeable. But, I should have known better. I continued logging onto the bank account. After a successful login, I clicked on the transfers page and started wiring funds to an offshore account I had set up. I typed in my account information and my password to complete the transfer. Within a minute, I was $50,000 richer than I was before.
I opened another window to check on my account. After waiting a moment to log on, my heart dropped. I felt sweat begin to form on my temples. I frantically looked around the coffee shop. My bank account read $0. Somebody just outplayed me. They watched my every move and snaked the money I just stole right out from under me.
I frantically glanced from suit to suit to see who did this to me. But, it wouldn’t matter. Everybody’s face was buried in their laptops. Except for one. He stared at me from the corner of the coffee shop. Not only was he staring at me, he was smiling. I clenched my fist on the table. I wanted to pulverize the man for stealing my deal. I tried to calm myself down by taking a sip from my cup. I never broke eye contact with the man.
With one finger, he slowly closed the lid of his laptop. He gracefully slid the metal slab into a shoulder bag that sat on the chair beside him. He finished the espresso that sat on the table in front of him and then he got up, slinging his bag onto his shoulder. He threw a few bucks down onto the table and then started making his way towards me.
I clenched my fists again. Why was he coming towards me? Wasn’t stealing my money enough even if the money wasn’t exactly mine? I closed all the windows on my computer before he approached and sat back in my chair. I cleared my throat and nodded towards him, acknowledging the fact that he was approaching me. He gave a quick nod back. I watch his hand reach into his inside jacket pocket and pull out a small metal case. Flicking it open, he pulled a card from within. After finally arriving at my table, he placed the card down and slid it towards me.
“You’re good.” He said with a smile.
He lifted his hand away from the card. I was staring at the back side. It was blank white.
“If you really wanted to make a living out of this,” the man continued “I could make you better.”
I remained silent. He gestured toward the business card he placed onto the table.
“Consider this a gift. A signing bonus, if you will. You can keep it, if you want. Contact me if you want even more than that.” He turned away from me and started towards the door. Before taking a step, he turned back around.
“Have a good day, Mr. McPherson.” He finished off before walking out of the shop.
The only two words that kept going through my head were “show off.”
I picked up the business card and turned it around. There were two lines of numbers on the card. The first looked like a phone number. But, the second was different. It looked like a bank account number.
I fired my computer back up and began searching around. And then, I found it. The account was with a bank in the Cayman Islands. The balance was $6.5 million. I leaned back in my chair and glanced at my phone. If this was a signing bonus, how much more could I make?