The man who called himself Aeron is a central character in my spy thriller Aeron. He is a very successful international crook. This story provides the background of his early success in international crime. And shows how he eventually earned the wrath of what we nowadays call the 1 percent.
Aeron and the 1 Percent
The young man who called himself Aeron left the Lutheran Swiss orphanage on his 15th birthday. He took with him the two and three quarter million Swiss Francs that the Dean of the orphanage had successfully swindled from “families” of the orphans placed under his expensive care. In 1996, that was a considerable amount of money, but Aeron considered it as an hors d’oeuvre, and a pretty skimpy one at that.
In his last couple of years at the orphanage Aeron had realised that the growing popularity of the internet and emails would provide an unprecedented opportunity to gather information and to use that information to make money. Time was on his side. Computer viruses had existed since the 1940’s, but defence in the form of anti-viral software wouldn’t become even remotely popular until the turn of the millennium. The first relatively popular technical book on how to set up a firewall wasn’t published until 1995. Even the word spam didn’t find a place in the Oxford Dictionary until 1998. So the ripe low fruit was dangling from the tree, just waiting to be picked.
In Aeron’s brief experience of life people in power, the priests and the Dean at the orphanage, abused that power for greed and sexual satisfaction. Since they did, it seemed to the analytical mind of a fifteen year old that all other people in power would do likewise. Even more important, they would be careless, secure in the false assumption that their power would protect them. He had no qualms in exploiting their greed. One of his friends had committed suicide rather than continue to receive the kind attentions of one of the priests.
So in the year that Microsoft and AOL entered the email market, Aeron made his first investment in the world of super computers. His intention was to build an enormous data base with as much information as possible about people in power anywhere. The overall plan was simple: find a person’s weakness and exploit that to enhance what would otherwise be legitimate business decisions. The first step was to design and set up the database structure. He chose a fast computer since he suspected that there be no shortage of information.
The second step was to hone up his hacking skills. Not that these were by any means trivial even then. But he needed to be able to easily hack into any number of individual computers and to use those to launch the more detailed hack at a particular target.
The third was to learn how to disappear.
Bribes and Sexual Favours
Aeron never ceased to be amazed at how otherwise intelligent men and women would not only take bribes and sexual favours wherever they could find them, but also keep notes, emails or digital images that totally implicated them. The closer he looked, the more it became obvious that the Profumo/Keeler scandal of the 1960’s was really quite tame compared with what seemed normal practice of the 1990’s.
He did not confine himself to politicians. Those in middle and top management in business were just as profligate, and their data were to prove just as useful. It was all based on blackmail of course, but the trick was to only sting people once. Or if more than once, to wait quite a long time and preferably to use a different piece of information on the second occasion.
Over time, his data base grew and his income grew even faster. The more money he had, the greater any particular piece of insider trading or other investment could be. And since they rarely failed, the greater were the profits. Within five years he was a billionaire.
The 1 percent
As his experience grew, Aeron realised that there were other very rich people who were doing something very similar. Whether by blackmail or not, they were using their influence on politicians to make huge profits. And so he began what was a much more dangerous game. He started hacking what are now called the 1 percent. Where they invested, he invested. When they were likely to secure a large munitions sale or other business deal, he bought and sold their shares appropriately.
Eventually they began to notice the pattern. Well before he turned thirty, Aeron had attracted the attention of the Third Group. And that could well prove deadly, if they could only find him.