Posting at the Nashville City Paper, Ken Whitehouse reports that an anonymous hacker, or plural, hackers, is claiming in a Pastebin message to have gained “all available 1040 tax forms” from Mitt Romney by accessing computers in the Franklin offices of financial services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. If this is true, this was an incredibly ballsy thing to attempt.
An excerpt from the hacker message says:
“Romney’s 1040 tax returns were taken from the PWC office 8/25/2012 by gaining access to the third floor via a gentleman working on the 3rd floor of the building. Once on the 3rd floor, the team moved down the stairs to the 2nd floor and setup shop in an empty office room. During the night, suite 260 was entered, and all available 1040 tax forms for Romney were copied. A package was sent to the PWC on suite 260 with a flash drive containing a copy of the 1040 files, plus copies were sent to the Democratic office in the county and copies were sent to the GOP office in the county at the beginning of the week also containing flash drives with copies of Romney’s tax returns before 2010. A scanned signature image for Mitt Romney from the 1040 forms were scanned and included with the packages, taken from earlier 1040 tax forms gathered and stored on the flash drives.
The group will release all available files to the public on the 28 of September, 2012.”
Then a follow up letter was also posted that reads:
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.he moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father
Despite the Mission Impossible meets a Nigerian 419 email scam feel to this one, it’s pretty obvious who the loser is in all of this, isn’t it? Hard to say exactly what’s going on here, but if this is a scam, it’s a goddamned elaborate one done in the full glare of the media. And the claims are so specific. Clearly it would be known to someone within the Franklin offices of PWC if there is any truth to this story of the break-in and quite simply if Romney’s tax returns could even be retrieved from that particular office or via an intranet that someone working there would have access to. They would just know.
Whitehouse writes that the City Paper was unable to independently confirm with county officials or representatives of PricewaterhouseCoopers if they have received packages like the ones described in the message. Neither would federal law enforcement confirm or deny an ongoing investigation into the alleged hack.
UPDATE: PricewaterhouseCoopers is saying that there is no evidence a break-in occurred, according to TPM, and gave the following statement:
“We are aware of the allegations that have been made regarding improper access to our systems. We are working closely with the United States Secret Service, and at this time there is no evidence that our systems have been compromised or that there was any unauthorized access to the data in question.”
Secret Service Eyes Romney Tax Return Blackmail Attempt
George Ogilvie, a Secret Service spokesman, confirmed to TPM that the agency is “investigating the incident,” but could not add further details.
In an interview with The Tennessean, the executive director of the Williamson County Republican Party said she also initially thought to treat the matter as a hoax.
“A million dollars seemed kind of low,” Jean Barwick told the paper. “If you’re going to go for a million, why not go for $100 million.”
At first, she contacted only the state GOP, to see if it got a similar package. But then on Wednesday, Barwick decided to contact the police. Charles Warner, a spokesperson for the Franklin Police Department, told TPM that based on what officers were told, the department called the Secret Service. (Warner added that the Franklin police did not respond to any complaints at the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ during August.)
No one from either county party appears to have attempted to look at the contents of the USB drives.
Burr, the Democratic Party Chairman, said he had kept the USB drive in his briefcase. At one point, Burr said, he considered plugging the drive into an old computer, but he said the “last thing I wanted to do was plug it in to a computer that I cared about.”
Wednesday morning, Burr’s office started to get calls.
“We got a call from an affiliate of The Tennessean newspaper here,” Burr said. “Almost immediately after that we got a call from the Secret Service.”
Secret Service members came by a few hours later, and took the materials with them.