Law Enforcement Investigating Hacker's Threat to Release Romney Tax Returns
A supposed hacker has posted mysterious and bizarre messages on the file sharing website Pastebin, claiming to have obtained access to presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax records by way of a security breach.
The latest Pastebin page, addressed to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, appeared yesterday it claims that the hacker used one of the company’s offices located in Franklin, TN to gain access to network file servers and “copy over the tax documents for one Willard M Romney and Ann D Romney.” A similar message was posted days earlier on September 2nd.
Further, the message demands $1 million in bitcoins as payment to withhold the records from the public, and designates September 28th as the deadline for such payment. Bitcoins are a digital currency commonplace in the hacker community.
A representative with the public affairs office of the Secret Service confirmed to Breitbart News that there is in fact a law enforcement investigation underway. When asked if the hacking claim was credible, he could not elaborate any further due to the open investigation.
A representative from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP told the International Business Times:
"We are aware of the allegations that have been made about improper access to our systems," Atkins said. "We're working closely with the US Secret Service and at this time there's no evidence that our systems have been compromised or that there's been any unauthorized access to the data in question."
Democrats have placed increasing pressure on Romney to release more than the required two years of tax returns to the public. In July, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid attacked Romney with a claim that an anonymous source told him the presidential candidate had not paid any taxes for ten years, a claim that Politifact debunked with a “Pants on Fire” rating.
General reaction from many in the security and technology communities, as well as astute readers on popular sites like Reddit, indicates that the claim is likely a scam. To start, no proof that Romney’s tax records are actually in the hacker’s hands was offered in the posts. Secondly, the explanation as to how the information was obtained seems implausible, according to Julia La Roche of Business Insider, who said the claim is "almost certainly nonsense."
"An anonymous post on Pastebin asking for Bitcoins? That's basically a parody of hackers," La Roche said. "Furthermore, the description of how the tax returns were purloined is implausible."
Such false claims are not at all uncommon in the hacking community, especially when politics is injected into the mix. False Pastebin pages are posted frequently as a disinformation tactic to distract from other activity, or to create attention in other areas. Just recently, disinformation about threats to media at the Democratic National Convention was posted to create hype about potential disruptions there and to distract law enforcement in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The full text of the Pastebin post from September 4th in its original form is below. The post from September 2nd can be found here.
Dear PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Using your Office @ 830 Crescent Centre Drive, Suite 260, Franklin, TN 37067 Telephone:  (615) 503-2860 we were able to gain access to your network file servers and copy over the tax documents for one Willard M Romney and Ann D Romney. We are sure that once you figure out where the security breach was, some people will probably get fired but that is not our concern.
All major news media outlets are going to be sent an encrypted copy of the most recent tax years that your company had on file since you did not have them all in a convenient electronic form. The years before 2010 will be of great interest to many. If the parties interested do not want the encrypted key released to the public to unlock these documents on September 28 of this year then payment will be necessary.
The deal is quite simple. Convert $1,000,000 USD to Bitcoins (Google if if you need a lesson on what Bitcoin is) using the various markets available out in the world for buying. Transfer the Bitcoins gathered to the Bitcoin address listed below. It does not matter if small amounts or one large amount is transferred, as long as the final value of the Bitcoins is equal to $1,000,000 USD at the time when it is finished. The keys to unlock the data will be purged and what ever is inside the documents will remain a secret forever.
Failure to do this before September 28, the entire world will be allowed to view the documents with a publicly released key to unlock everything.
Bitcoin Address to Stop Release:
And the same time, the other interested parties will be allowed to compete with you. For those that DO want the documents released will have an different address to send to. If $1,000,000 USD is sent to this account below first; then the encryption keys will be made available to the world right away. So this is an equal opportunity for the documents to remain locked away forever or to be exposed before the September 28 deadline.
Who-ever is the winner does not matter to us.
Bitcoin Address to Promote Full Release:
Reference to avoid Fakes that only you will have.
1.all these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty
2.[t]he moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father