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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hackers Allegedly Hold Mitt Romney's Tax Returns Hostage

Posted by on Wed, Sep 5, 2012 at 1:53 PM

This is incredibly illegal, but it's still delicious:

A person or group claiming to be hackers posted a text on yesterday claiming to have hacked all of Mitt Romney's tax records. Pastebin is normally a place where coders store information for a designated amount of time, so the individual who posted the text appears to be using the site for unusual purposes.

Anyway, whoever did it is claiming that they hacked into the Franklin, Tennessee, offices of PriceWaterhouseCooper computers on August 25. What supposedly happened is that the hacker(s) got into the offices via a person working there and accessed the computers, got the files they needed for Romney's 1040 forms prior to 2010 and copied them all to flash drives.

Two packages were then mailed to Democratic and Republican party offices in the county that included flash drives containing the document files. Both packages were then confiscated by Secret Service agents on Wednesday morning. Journos with The City Paper have seen the contents of the file but Republican officials wouldn't let them copy them for obvious reasons.

They're reportedly asking for a million dollars in bitcoins to keep the records private. Wow. Wow. Wow. What a clusterfuck. This wouldn't be an issue, of course, if Romney had just released his tax returns in the first place. And no matter what happens, this is surely going to keep those returns in the spotlight for a good long while to come. (Thanks to Slog tipper Matthew for the tip.)


Comments (22) RSS

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Cracker Jack 2
Read the original posts. Not even close to describing how one would do this. These yahoos couldn't find a 1040 form at
Posted by Cracker Jack on September 5, 2012 at 2:05 PM · Report this
1. it's bullshit
2. the 1040s aren't where any of the fun stuff would be, anyway.
Posted by doceb on September 5, 2012 at 2:07 PM · Report this
BostonFontSnob 4
Seriously, Paul, this is a hoax. They are asking for the money in Bitcoin for Pete's sake.
Posted by BostonFontSnob on September 5, 2012 at 2:11 PM · Report this
This is good, in that it returns focus to Mitt’s taxes (or lack there of) but also very bad because it makes Mitt the victim of exactly the kind of ‘evil techno liberal’ that the hee-haw republican base is afraid of. If this story goes forward Mittens gets to look strong by refusing to ‘yield’ to these tactics.
We were better off when he wasn’t releasing his taxes and couldn’t tell us why not.
Posted by Jonathank5 on September 5, 2012 at 2:13 PM · Report this
venomlash 6
Can we have a mashup of options 1 and 3? I think they don't have shit, but it's just a troll having fun.
Posted by venomlash on September 5, 2012 at 2:22 PM · Report this
balderdash 8
Come on. Bitcoins? Nobody is serious about bitcoins.
Posted by balderdash on September 5, 2012 at 2:28 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 9
That local GOP office confirmed they received a flash drive with encrypted content.

What would be really interesting is if they already loaded the encryption keys to distribute unless they manually stopped the transmissions. Easy to do. So, if the parties responsible are arrested, well... they distribute for sure on September 28th. If this is all true, anyway.

If they did that, then Romney is in a real pickle, and so is Price Waterhouse Cooper. If they push a prosecution or arrest, then... it happens anyway.

@2 you (and Paul) should read this--even more details are here. If this is a scam it's ridiculously complex and hyper-specific. I think Romney's goose is cooked.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on September 5, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 10
And the FBI don't have your Apple IDs ... Oh, wait, they do.
Posted by Will in Seattle on September 5, 2012 at 2:32 PM · Report this
Also, that they went public with this continues to suggest that it's BS. All that making the threat public does is ensure that no payment will be made.
Posted by doceb on September 5, 2012 at 2:37 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 12
@8 they're probably easier for the entrepreneur hacker to stay semi-anonymous with, however, for this insane scheme.

Posted by Joe Szilagyi on September 5, 2012 at 2:38 PM · Report this
I think this is likely some trolls or else they're baiting Romney to self release which would just make Romney look like an innocent victim. However, I can't help but hope it's for real. The best possible outcome would be for Romney to pay them the hush money (showing him to be a major pussy who will try to pay off "terrorists") and they release them anyway. I'm almost giddy at the idea. Sadly, I think it's unlikely. :(

BTW, Am I the only person on here who never heard of bitcoins before today?
Posted by Root on September 5, 2012 at 3:01 PM · Report this
This has all the hallmarks of a Karl Rove special. They're waiting for the Democrats to make a big deal out of this info, then it'll be dramatically revealed as a forgery, and this will somehow neutralize any further discussion of Romney's taxes. It's exactly how Rove killed the Bush / Texas National Guard issue in 2000. Don't take the bait! Take any "too good to be true" dramatic revelations with several million grains of salt.
Posted by Pope Buck I on September 5, 2012 at 3:09 PM · Report this
Posted by DavidC on September 5, 2012 at 3:12 PM · Report this
sperifera 16
@15 - I like the way they worded "at this time" into the statement.
Posted by sperifera on September 5, 2012 at 3:23 PM · Report this
@15,@16: No evidence of a break-in is not necessarily evidence of no break-in. Swiping digital info without a trace is certainly possible.
Posted by butterw on September 5, 2012 at 3:27 PM · Report this
sperifera 18
Here's how this could play out: PWC continues to deny anything was taken. On Sept 28, the "bogus" returns are released and the sides start forming. Surprisingly, the returns look remarkably complex and potentially true. For two weeks, the left squaks about how valid they must be. The right squaks about how fake and illegal they are. On Oct 15th, Romney releases his 2011 return as he has promised to. It ends up being almost number for number to the leaked returns. Um, hi. Big elephant in the room?
Posted by sperifera on September 5, 2012 at 3:40 PM · Report this
Man, does the Stranger fall for every god damned internet hoax on the planet now?

We're almost two decades into the Internet as Medium and The Stranger is as witless about it as my 82 year old mother.

Dear Mr. Constant,

I am a sadly dejected Prince from the African kingdom of Nigeria who requires your help in securing his inheritance for much reward to our mutual benefit. All that is required is for you to deposit a small sum in a bank in London and...
Posted by tkc on September 5, 2012 at 3:45 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 20

The National Guard forgery came out in 2004.
Posted by keshmeshi on September 5, 2012 at 3:53 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 21
I say this is all a ploy set up by the suckers that invested in Bitcoin.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on September 5, 2012 at 3:56 PM · Report this
Personally, I go with "none of the above choices". The "hackers" don't have anything, and they are not affiliated with anyone. They're a couple of hopeful trolls, who are likely to be arrested.

A couple of reasons:

1. They mentioned the figure $1m, rather than simply saying something like 100,000 (or 200,000) bitcoins, which at current exchange rates (~$10/bitcoin), would be about $1m. They assume that the recipients wouldn't need a dollar figure. Anyone remotely aware of technology or illegal activities or money policy (i.e., any political campaign) wouldn't resort to requesting money in dollar format. They'd request the bitcoins directly.

2. It violates the essential goal of Anonymous, which is political, and which doesn't need to resort to raising money through extortion. If they had the documents, they's post them to WikiLeaks, and then state their intention to release the unlock code, without resorting to a money request.

This strikes me as the work or fools, and Anonymous is made up of many people, but very few fools. It sounds more like Dr. Evil to me. It would be a fun idea to contemplate though.
Posted by uubuntu on September 5, 2012 at 4:32 PM · Report this
Why does the only "they don't have shit" option also assume this was done by The Democrats? How about "they don't have shit; someone is just yanking everyone's chain to be a jackass."
Posted by beef rallard on September 5, 2012 at 4:46 PM · Report this
AmyC 24
BITCOINS?? My brain just broke.
Posted by AmyC on September 6, 2012 at 7:23 AM · Report this

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