Secret Service Involved After Hackers Demand $1 Million Bitcoin Ransom For Mitt Romney’s Tax Returns
After many doubted the validity of two flash drives, allegedly containing Mitt Romney's tax returns for many years prior to 2010, all eyes are on Nashville, TN following word that members of the Secret Service have confiscated the devices as part of an ongoing investigation.
Officials from the Williamson County Republican Party notified police that they had received a thumb drive, allegedly containing undisclosed records of Mitt Romney's tax returns, on Wednesday. In an open letter, discovered on Pastebin after being posted September 2, an unidentified team of hackers took credit for the delivery and outlined an infiltration plan straight out of a spy-flick. According to the team, multiple hackers gained access to the PricewaterhouseCoopers office in Franklin sometime during the night of Aug. 25, 2012. An unidentified employee provided access to the commercial building that houses the PricewaterhouseCoopers offices, giving the crew access to the firm's suite, where they made copies of every Romney-related tax form they could find. After escaping with their haul, the unidentified collective copied the files over to several additional thumb drives and then delivered the drives to the Williamson County Democratic and Republican Party offices. A separate drive was also mailed back to the PricewaterhouseCoopers office in Franklin.
Next came the ransom, more specifically, a demand for $1 million worth of the near-untraceable Bitcoin currency. According to the letter, should Romney's campaign cough up the necessary money, the group will destroy the files' keys and the world will never know their contents. If, however, they do not hear from Romney's campaign prior to September 28 - or should a party interested in the documents' release submit payment first - then the secrets of Mitt Romney's tax returns will supposedly be revealed at long last.
Jean Barwick was the first Williamson County Republican to discover the package, and contacted the state GOP office to see if they had any knowledge of its contents. She waited several days to contact authorities, attributing the decision to a disbelief in the package's authenticity. "A million dollars seemed kind of low," Barwick told a reporter from The Tennessean, adding, "If you're going to go for a million, why not go for $100 million."
Many aspects of the story, particularly the group's reliance on physical location and use of thumb drives for the task, understandably left many skeptical of its validity. PricewaterhouseCoopers has denied the allegations, but confirmed that they are working with the Secret Service despite a lack of evidence to validate the hackers' claims. The Secret Service, in usual fashion, has also declined to comment on the matter. But that still leaves one question. If this is nothing more than an elaborate work of fiction, and PricewaterhouseCoopers truly believes that Romney's tax records are safe, why escalate things from local authorities all the way up to the Secret Service?
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