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Author Topic: Romney's tax returns - first Bitcoin extortion?  (Read 20930 times)
repentance
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September 05, 2012, 05:58:53 AM
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An anonymous individual or group is alleging that they have gained "all available 1040 tax forms" of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney by accessing computers in the Franklin office of the professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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"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.

http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/anonymous-group-allegedly-hacked-romney-tax-records-franklin-firm

While the claim of possessing Romney's tax records may well be bullshit, I'm guessing that any extortion threat towards a Presidential candidate is going to attract serious investigation - including an attempt to identify the owner of the Bitcoin address in question.

This could get interesting.

All I can say is that this is Bitcoin. I don't believe it until I see six confirmations.
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LightRider
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September 05, 2012, 06:06:41 AM
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An anonymous individual or group is alleging that they have gained "all available 1040 tax forms" of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney by accessing computers in the Franklin office of the professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Quote
"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.

http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/anonymous-group-allegedly-hacked-romney-tax-records-franklin-firm

While the claim of possessing Romney's tax records may well be bullshit, I'm guessing that any extortion threat towards a Presidential candidate is going to attract serious investigation - including an attempt to identify the owner of the Bitcoin address in question.

This could get interesting.

The September surprise! Gavin has some 'splaining to do.

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September 05, 2012, 06:06:58 AM
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If this person was really serious about getting paid he would ask for 50 or 100K, But they would only pay if he released a teaser like page 65-100 on year 2008 to prove that he has something of value.

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September 05, 2012, 06:11:52 AM
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I find it odd that this is the only paper to report this..
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September 05, 2012, 06:16:46 AM
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Hasn't there already been a tax return hoax already? Too bad they didn't just give the info to wikileaks without the ransom. This is the next evolution of journalism if this works.

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repentance
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September 05, 2012, 06:21:48 AM
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Hasn't there already been a tax return hoax already? Too bad they didn't just give the info to wikileaks without the ransom. This is the next evolution of journalism if this works.

I'm more interested in the extent to which there'll be an attempt to locate the owner of the Bitcoin addresses.  Y'all seem to take threats towards your presidential candidates pretty seriously over there and investigate everything which could be remotely construed as a threat.

All I can say is that this is Bitcoin. I don't believe it until I see six confirmations.
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September 05, 2012, 06:26:29 AM
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I find it odd that this is the only paper to report this..

I'm convinced that papers no longer go looking for stories but wait for people to send them leads to stuff found online (and then reprint it without any fact checking whatever was in the first report).

I've seen stories go national after first appearing on a messageboard and then getting picked up by local media, but how much this gets picked up will depend on how many people bring the pastebin to the attention of larger media outlets.

I assume those Bitcoin addresses have never been used for previous transactions (or that they belong to someone the hoaxer really hates).

All I can say is that this is Bitcoin. I don't believe it until I see six confirmations.
Bitcoin Oz
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September 05, 2012, 06:26:53 AM
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Im sure Romney can sell one of his 20 houses to pay it.

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September 05, 2012, 06:29:46 AM
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Hasn't there already been a tax return hoax already? Too bad they didn't just give the info to wikileaks without the ransom. This is the next evolution of journalism if this works.

I'm more interested in the extent to which there'll be an attempt to locate the owner of the Bitcoin addresses.  Y'all seem to take threats towards your presidential candidates pretty seriously over there and investigate everything which could be remotely construed as a threat.

This isn't a threat though. This is involuntary conformation to established campaign disclosure precedent.

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September 05, 2012, 06:32:27 AM
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I wouldn't be at all surprised if this wasn't a Federal operation designed to target bitcoin just a little more as an excuse to put it under the jurisdiction of some Federal police force.

"We must use all available resources to defend against these threats against our fine upstanding citizens such as Mitt Romney by these dangerous hacker tools..." would be the general tone of the already pre-written communique sitting in some bureaucrats desk at Treasury, FBI or DHS.

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September 05, 2012, 06:42:04 AM
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I wonder if this is real too. But it's pretty smart. I doubt PW would pay anything here but the extortionist may just be hoping the rest of the public will contribute to getting info released. Either way he gets funds going into either address. Is this the first instance of mass public extortion? I mean telling the world they can see the tax records only if in total they pay out. I guess we'll see if this gets picked up by the mainstream media or if word has been put out to quash it, or if it turns out to be baloney.

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September 05, 2012, 06:46:23 AM
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If this person was really serious about getting paid he would ask for 50 or 100K, But they would only pay if he released a teaser like page 65-100 on year 2008 to prove that he has something of value.

They could have sent the private key to decrypt the files to the Romney campaign to prove that they have the tax returns.
repentance
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September 05, 2012, 06:49:03 AM
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I wonder if this is real too. But it's pretty smart. I doubt PW would pay anything here but the extortionist may just be hoping the rest of the public will contribute to getting info released. Either way he gets funds going into either address. Is this the first instance of mass public extortion? I mean telling the world they can see the tax records only if in total they pay out. I guess we'll see if this gets picked up by the mainstream media or if word has been put out to quash it, or if it turns out to be baloney.

Even the threat of extortion would probably be illegal wouldn't it, whether the person posting the message possesses the information referred to or not?

All I can say is that this is Bitcoin. I don't believe it until I see six confirmations.
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September 05, 2012, 06:49:51 AM
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I wonder if this is real too. But it's pretty smart. I doubt PW would pay anything here but the extortionist may just be hoping the rest of the public will contribute to getting info released. Either way he gets funds going into either address. Is this the first instance of mass public extortion? I mean telling the world they can see the tax records only if in total they pay out. I guess we'll see if this gets picked up by the mainstream media or if word has been put out to quash it, or if it turns out to be baloney.

It could just be a ploy to get more attention for Bitcoin. The problem is that if Bitcoin is used for extortions like this, it would be a great excuse for the U.S. government to put pressure to shut down the Bitcoin exchanges and any business that accepts or uses Bitcoin. Sad
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September 05, 2012, 06:53:13 AM
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I wonder if this is real too. But it's pretty smart. I doubt PW would pay anything here but the extortionist may just be hoping the rest of the public will contribute to getting info released. Either way he gets funds going into either address. Is this the first instance of mass public extortion? I mean telling the world they can see the tax records only if in total they pay out. I guess we'll see if this gets picked up by the mainstream media or if word has been put out to quash it, or if it turns out to be baloney.

It could just be a ploy to get more attention for Bitcoin. The problem is that if Bitcoin is used for extortions like this, it would be a great excuse for the U.S. government to put pressure to shut down the Bitcoin exchanges and any business that accepts or uses Bitcoin. Sad

Think how it looks if they throw all their resources at it and still cant get it shut down.   Grin

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September 05, 2012, 06:56:25 AM
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Think how it looks if they throw all their resources at it and still cant get it shut down

They can't even shutdown bit torrent. Bitcoin is a much harder fight.

"The synonym of usury is ruin." -Samuel Johnson
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September 05, 2012, 06:58:25 AM
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Think how it looks if they throw all their resources at it and still cant get it shut down.   Grin

Bitcoin itself won't get shut down, but the above ground markets that exchange or deal in Bitcoin could certainly be disrupted. The markets for Bitcoin could quickly become black markets.
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September 05, 2012, 07:07:43 AM
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Think how it looks if they throw all their resources at it and still cant get it shut down.   Grin

Bitcoin itself won't get shut down, but the above ground markets that exchange or deal in Bitcoin could certainly be disrupted. The markets for Bitcoin could quickly become black markets.

That argument could be made when any sort of legal tender so I doubt that could be used as an argument to shut down above ground markets/traders.
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September 05, 2012, 07:09:16 AM
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Even assuming this is true... are they really expecting any payment? I mean, AFAIK, blackmail contracts are illegal and thus unenforceable (well, at least by conventional means). Even if Romney pays, what's to prevent the hacker from releasing the information nevertheless? "Alternative enforcement" is not really an option to Romney now that it got so public.

Plus, as they've disclosed the address publicly, the act of paying it would also be public. Everybody would know that Romney (or somebody trying to protect him) payed the blackmailer. I don't think that would be good for a politician.
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September 05, 2012, 07:10:51 AM
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It could just be a ploy to get more attention for Bitcoin.

I consider this the most likely scenario.  It's clear that whoever posted the pastebin doesn't care about whether the information they supposedly went to great trouble to obtain is released or not (why even explain how you supposedly obtained the information, if that's the case), but there's a chance that a story about Romney being "blackmailed" over his tax records will get mainstream media attention - something  Bitcoin hasn't managed to achieve yet (the technology sections of newspapers don't really count).  If you wanted Bitcoin to get mentioned in the 6pm news bulletin of major TV networks or the political section of major newspapers, this might be one way to make that happen - for better or worse.

All I can say is that this is Bitcoin. I don't believe it until I see six confirmations.
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