Not a Good Publicity Day for Bitcoin

Yet another Bitcoin business shuts down after a large heist and someone is claiming to be holding Mitt Romney’s unreleased tax returns hostage in return for $1million in Bitcoin.

A few days ago, Bitfloor, a popular Bitcoin exchange lost ~$250k as their servers were compromised and the hackers “gained accesses to an unencrypted backup of the wallet keys”. Information on the heist was posted to a Bitcoin forum by the website’s owner, where many more details can be found.

And this news comes only days after Bitcoin Savings and Trust, a high-yield investment scheme, defaulted.

Earlier today news broke that someone is claiming to have broken into Pricewaterhouse Coopers’s Franklin, TN office to “gain access to your network file servers and copy over the tax documents for one Willard M Romney and Ann D Romney.”

This ransom note was posted at pastebin.com and goes on  to explain that …

“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 … 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 … Transfer the Bitcoins gathered to the Bitcoin address listed below.”

“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 Tennessean is reporting that last week the Williamson County Republican Party received a package that claims to include copies of the tax returns.  Apparently, both the county Republican and Democratic offices, have confirmed that they received packages containing a flash drive and a copy of the ransom note.

Pricewaterhouse Cooper recently tweeted that “Regarding recent reports: We are working with the Secret Service. At this time, there is no evidence of unauthorized access to our data”.

Time will tell if this is legit or not, but interestingly the ransom note also threatens …

“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 [Bitcoin] 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.”

I have to wonder if this is an elaborate attempt to get a few donations at the ‘DO release the documents’ payment address. I’m also seeing suggestions that this may be an attempt to boost the price of Bitcoins.

Whatever is really going on here, it is a very big news day for Bitcoin. These stories are popping up all over the internet and not only on the usual techy sites, but mainstream news sources as well and even a celebrity gossip site.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19486695

http://www.memphisflyer.com/TheBruceVBlog/archives/2012/09/05/hacker-group-claims-to-have-romneys-tax-returns

http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2012/09/mitt-romney-tax-returns-allegedly-hacked-up-for-bids/

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2012/09/someones-claiming-be-holding-romneys-tax-returns-ransom/56533/

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/09/05/160634872/secret-service-investigates-claim-that-romneys-tax-returns-were-stolen

http://rt.com/usa/news/currency-exchange-bitcoin-shtylman-472/

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-19486695

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2012/09/bitcoin-heist-and-upside-government-regulation/56517/

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