Feeds

Feds charge man in $1m 'Dr Evil' scam to blackmail Mitt Romney

Scott, I want you to meet daddy's nemesis

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

A Tennessee man has been charged over a high-profile extortion and wire fraud scam involving former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's tax returns.

Michael Mancil Brown, 34, of Franklin, Tennessee faces six counts of wire fraud and six counts of extortion over his alleged involvement in a plot to blackmail Romney with threats to expose his tax records during last year's presidential campaign.

These tax records were supposedly swiped from the Franklin offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers before Romney was offered the chance to block their publication for $1m, payable in Bitcoins. Demand letters were also sent to Republican Party offices in Tennessee and PwC.

The blackmailer offered to release the mysterious documents if $1m was paid into a separate Bitcoin account.

According to charges contained in the indictment, Brown was behind attempts to auction off the supposed files. The Feds said that the claims made by the blackmailer, whatever their identity, of having compromised the accounting firm's computer systems before lifting the tax records of Mitt and Ann Romney were all hogwash.

A Department of Justice statement on the case goes on to allege: "Brown devised a scheme to defraud Romney, the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and others by falsely claiming that he had gained access to the PricewaterhouseCoopers internal computer network and had stolen tax documents for Romney and his wife, Ann D. Romney, for tax years prior to 2010."

Boasts posted on Pastebin back in September 2012 claimed that Romney's 1040 tax returns were copied onto a flash drive after a "team" had sneaked into the Franklin offices of PwC. In a later FAQ on the extortion demands, the "group" adopted the moniker "Dr Evil", a reference to the antagonist of the Austin Powers films who was also inclined towards making extortionate demands for “one MEEELLLION dollars”, in between demanding "sharks with fricking lasers".

Romney's disinclination to reveal his tax affairs was used against him throughout last year's presidential campaign, which was moving into overdrive at the time of the unsubstantiated record theft claims.

The author of the demand letters included a flash drive supposedly containing encrypted documents related to Romney's tax records, CNN reports.

PricewaterhouseCoopers said at the time of the initial claim that it had no evidence that its system had been accessed. Political officials turned over packages sent to their offices to Secret Service investigators without opening them, Politico adds. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.