Alexander is nervous; today is not a good day. Bad news has reached him from London. Friends of his have been arrested. People with whom he did business. Will they spill the beans to the police? If they do, he will go to jail – that is clear.
He glances around the Brussels cafe and notices a suspicious man at the back. Is that a plainclothes policeman? “What a life!” says Alexander in a moment of self-pity. “Being somewhere else every day, sleeping at another place; and always the fear that someone will suddenly appear and snap handcuffs on you.”
Alexander came to Brussels because he is a dropout. For that reason, he is willing to revel a new method for breaking the codes of credit cards. A method, he says, that can outsmart even the highest security standards of the financial industry. It is just as seductive for criminals as the key to the vault of a bank.
Alexander, an Eastern European, is in his mid-30s. He arranged to meet in Brussels, an anonymous, complex city that he can reach by train. Rail travel is good; there are no identity checks. The conversations with him last for many hours, in Brussels and later in a second city.
While speaking, he repeatedly takes a credit card out of his pocket and gestures with his hand, as if he were a conductor and the credit card were his baton. What he has to say revolves around a special piece of software that fits onto a USB stick and is based on no more than 40 lines of programming code.