Mitt Romney's tax returns have reportedly been stolen from PricewaterhouseCooper's (PWC’s) Franklin, Tenn., office and will be released to the public unless the GOP presidential nominee coughs up $1 million in ransom, according to a Pastebin blog posted by an anonymous hacker group.
The initial post, which is dated Sept. 2, details the methods used to obtain the allegedly stolen information: "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.”
The post continues on to explain the methods by which the information was purportedly sent to the Democratic and GOP offices in the form of flash drives.
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The statement also says that the group will release all available files to the public on Sept. 28, 2012.
A second Pastebin posting, this one dated Sept. 4, lays out the more enterprising portion of the plan:
"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 post then explains that $1 billion must be converted to Bitcoins, a form of digital currency, and transferred to a designated address. It then promises that 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."
The post then opens the same offer to groups and individuals who might prefer that the tax returns actually be made public. A different address is made available with the same financial terms, with the caveat that immediate payment will be reciprocated with immediate release of the encryption keys currently protecting the documents.
"Who-ever is the winner does not matter to us," the post concludes.
The debate surrounding Romney's tax returns has generated a variety of criticism and has led to speculation that the candidate has leveraged offshore accounts in such a manner that he has avoided paying any taxes for a period of years. Though Romney has released his tax return for 2010 and has expressed intentions to release the documents for 2011, he has steadfastly refused to release returns for previous years. Romney has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
PUBLISHED SEPT. 5, 2012