Accepting Bitcoin for illicit transactions is never a good idea, and the alleged hacker of tax records belonging to Mitt Romney has found that out the hard way. Michael Mancil Brown was found guilty of fraud and extortion.
Mitt Romney Tax Record Extortion Is Bad Karma
Back in 2012, the world was shocked to find out somebody had hacked then-US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax records. The culprit behind this attack, who goes by the name of Michael Mancil Brown, sent a letter to PricewaterhouseCoopers, who were serving as Romney’s accountants at that time.
While Brown confessed these actions himself, he also made it clear that the sum of $1 million USD had to be paid in Bitcoin. Otherwise, the records would be released to the public. Pulling off such a stunt would not be as easy as cashing a virtual paycheck, though, as PricewaterhouseCoopers did not take kindly to the claims Brown made in the following weeks.
Under the Dr. Evil moniker, Brown made various online posts explaining how he hacked the PwC company servers and sniffed out the Mitt Romney tax records, as well as those belonging to his wife. That news could not come at a worse time, considering the Presidential elections were three months away, and a scandal was the last thing Romney needed.
Moreover, Mitt Romney had been facing allegations of not disclosing the majority of his tax returns. The documents which were made publicly available showed he only paid 15 percent tax, which did not go over well with the US public. Brown continued to threaten with a full release of the tax returns by September 28 unless his Bitcoin extortion demands were met or Mitt Romney released the details himself.
It did not take long for law enforcement officials to find out who was behind this attack, and Brown’s house was raided. A lot of evidence regarding his contact with PwC was recovered, yet there was no trace of any tax records belonging to Mitt Romney. This corroborated the story PricewaterhouseCooper had told from the beginning, as they had not noticed any breach of their systems.
Ever since being charged in 2013, Brown has been awaiting trial. On May 17, 2016, a Nashville court found him guilty of six counts of wire fraud, and six more of extortion. While his sentence has yet to be determined, he may spend the next 25 years in prison, and be penalised for up to $250,000 USD in the process.
This is another example of why using Bitcoin for illegal online activity is not a smart decision. Albeit no transaction took place in this Mitt Romney story, Bitcoin is far from anonymous. All transactions are recorded in real–time on the blockchain and anyone in the world can see the origin and destination of all bitcoins in circulation.
What are your thoughts on Brown being found guilty? Will this news impact Bitcoin in a positive or negative manner? Let us know in the comments below!
Source: The Register
Images courtesy of Mitt Romney, PwC, Shutterstock.