Bitcoin Ransoming Romney Hacker Sentenced to 25 Years

37 year old Michael Mancil Brown was asking for $1,000,000,000 in Bitcoin in exchange for Mitt Romney’s tax records. He has been guilty of extortion and fraud.

In August of 2012 Michael Brown wrote a letter to one of Romney’s accountants,PwC, telling them that he had hacked the company servers and stole Romney and his wife Anne’s tax records and wanted a one million dollar bitcoin ransom in exchange for the info.

At this time, the presidential elections were right around the corner, and Romney was being criticized for only releasing two years of tax returns that showed he had paid about 15% tax. Brown told PwC that he had Romney’s returns from pre-2010 and also stated he offered both political parties the same deal.

On Pastebin the following month, Brown using the name Dr. Evil, posted a series of entries claiming that PwC’s network had been breached on August 25th. One of Browns hacking team members broke into a PwC terminal from an upstairs office, extracted Romney’s files and snuck it out of the building.

Threatening a full release of Romney’s tax returns by September 28th, Brown said that some media firms had been sent copies, but were keeping it under wraps. Brown also contacted The Reg but didnt disclose any tax records so they advised skepticism. Brown also said he would cancel the dump of Romney’s data if he infact released the earlier tax returns.

Brown’s home was raided by the FEDs shortly after his posts, finding evidence of his contacts with the firms, but no mention of any tax returns being seized. PwC has said that no attack had taken place, and its IT systems werent breached.

A Nashville court has found Brown guilty.

“The success of this prosecution is due to the excellent online investigative skill and computer forensic analysis demonstrated repeatedly by the United States Secret Service in this area of increasingly high tech criminal conduct. Hackers, aspiring hackers, and identity thieves are identified, caught, prosecuted and convicted because of the work and determination of the Secret Service to stay ahead of people who abuse new technology to commit age old crimes of fraud and extortion,” first assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Smith said.

Charged in 2013, Brown was found to be guilty on six counts of wire fraud, and six counts of using facilities of interstate commerce to commit extortion. Brown can serve a possible 25 years in prison, and $250,000 in fines.

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