• Big 4

    Did Someone Really Steal Mitt Romney’s Tax Returns From PwC’s Franklin, Tennessee Office?

    By | September 5, 2012

    By now you've probably heard that an anonymous group – no, likely not The Anonymous – is claiming they got into PwC's Franklin, Tennessee office and nabbed Romney's tax returns, which they will apparently release September 28th unless they're given $1,000,000 USD (or, alternatively, "one milllllion dollars") in Bitcoins before that date. If someone desperate to see the returns cares to pay $1,000,000 USD in Bitcoins instead, the alleged thieves claim they are prepared to release the returns sooner should they receive the money. PwC is denying that any breach has occurred.

    The claim, first posted by Nashville's City Paper, is obviously pretty wild. You mean some dudes just kind of snuck into this Suite 260 and magically grabbed Romney's tax returns? Sure, okay, that totally seems likely! Did they wear little harnesses when they dropped down from the ceiling too?

    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. A package was sent to the PWC on suite 260 with a flash drive containing a copy of the 1040 files, plus copies were sent to the Democratic office in the county and copies were sent to the GOP office in the county at the beginning of the week also containing flash drives with copies of Romney's tax returns before 2010. A scanned signature image for Mitt Romney from the 1040 forms were scanned and included with the packages, taken from earlier 1040 tax forms gathered and stored on the flash drives.

    The group will release all available files to the public on the 28 of September, 2012.

    Okay, really now? One millllion dollars? Gee, wasn't that totally a movie?

    Apparently the folks who nabbed Romney's returns wrote directly to PwC, expecting them to pony up that $1,000,000. And maybe fire some people, whatever:

    Dear PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
    Using your Office @ 830 Crescent Centre Drive, Suite 260, Franklin, TN 37067  Telephone: [1] (615) 503-2860 we were able to gain access to your network file servers and copy over the tax documents for one Willard M Romney and Ann D Romney. We are sure that once you figure out where the security breach was, some people will probably get fired but that is not our concern.
    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 deal is quite simple. Convert $1,000,000 USD to Bitcoins (Google if if [sic] you need a lesson on what Bitcoin is) using the various markets available out in the world for buying. Transfer the Bitcoins gathered to the Bitcoin address listed below. It does not matter if small amounts or one large amount is transferred, as long as the final value of the Bitcoins is equal to $1,000,000 USD at the time when it is finished. 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.
    PwC released the following statement just moments ago:
    We are aware of the allegations that have been made regarding improper access to our systems.  We are working closely with the United States Secret Service, and at this time there is no evidence that our systems have been compromised or that there was any unauthorized access to the data in question.

    We'll keep an eye on this, but don't hold your breath for a big data dump on September 28th. If you have more information on this story, email us.

    • Guest

      a gajillion trillion dollars

    • Taxguest

      That sounds pretty ridiculous to me… But, it isn’t particularly hard to sneak into a Big 4 office. I’ve worked in two and depending on how strict the building security is, once you’re past it, it’s pretty easy to get into the office.

      • End of B4??

         I would have to agree.  While the ‘ransom note’ almost seems childish in a way, I think it’s more laughable that someone would consider their Big 4 office impenetrable. 

        • $19577774

          Anyone who’s ever seen the Tax department in a PwC office knows that it’s a fucking train wreck. If someone were to actually get in there, it would probably take them hours and hours to sift through the piles of random papers, files and empty pizza boxes to find what they’re looking for. Even the PwC Tax staff can’t find what they’re looking for half the time. All PwC staff are familiar with the weekly office-wide e-mails with the subject line something to the effect of “Has anyone seen the file for XYX client?”  PwC Tax’s “filing system” is the perfect defense for this sort of potential crime.

          PwC must really love this publicity though. Any publicity is good publicity.

          • Taxguest

            Oh yeah, good luck finding what you need on my desk… It’s covered in stacks of drafts and even I can barely figure out what is what. It’s all pretty worthless information regardless. In order to find a hard copy of something you’d have to know exactly who works on it and where they sit. There is no way that information is available to someone sneaking into an office.

            My other question is, why would Mitt’s return be in a TN office? Wouldn’t it be in Boston if anything? I’m pretty sure they have a large private group….

        • romad20000

          I wouldn’t consider the office off limits, I’ve had clients and others in my office all the time, but what I would consider unusual would be PWC being stupid enough to not have high value clients data protected. 

          • Tax Nerd

            I agree.  Getting into a Big Four office isn’t that hard.  Just wear business casual, and follow someone in with an “I can’t find my badge look.”   (Being white or Asian probably helps.)
            The hard part is finding returns in a Big 4 office.  Like B4V said, employees can’t find returns they need.  Nevermind that an extremely sensitive tax return is going to be kept under lock and key. 

            I worked down the hall from the guy at PwC who prepared the tax return for a very wealthy, very famous media mogul.  (Wealthy enough to discover that certain software could only handle ten-digit incomes, not 11 digits.)  Rumor had it that that person’s tax return was on a different software license so that nosy staffers like me couldn’t try to get into it out of curiousity.  PEven so, that return was password protected.  The senior manager who prepared it didn’t staff out the data entry or general tax prep, instead, he did the prep himself.  (I suspect a very discreet person was found in reality, but it certainly wasn’t sent to an offshore service center.)  Paper copies certainly weren’t left laying around, even drafts.  Certainly not client-signed versions of the final return.

            • Guy1231

              Does the 11 digits include decimals? 

            • Guessed

              someone made over $10 billion in one year?

            • LackeyOfLove

              I call shenanigans on someone making over $10B in one year.  Maybe if you’d say “10 vs 9” instead of “11 vs 10”. 

    • Steeeeeve_Perry

      crossing my fingers that this is true! 

      • Guest


        • Steeeeeve_Perry

          Like x 10000000! 

        • SCOTDJ

          It doesn’t even add up.

          • Steeeeeve_Perry

            And there’s way too much income on Sch C, and way to little on Sch E, for the type of investing Romney does. 

            • Tax Nerd

              This is definitely fake. 
              Like SCOTDJ said, it doesn’t even add up.  Line 22 (Total Income) is $343,332 too high.  It looks like they put $20M even on Line 12 (Business Income), did the math, then decided a round number looked fake, and changed it to $20,343,332 and didn’t re-do the math.
              They also should have changed Line 17 (Rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, S Corps, trusts, etc.), because there’s no way that $50K on the dot for the Romneys.  ($279,884 loss in 2010, though I’ll grant that the economy changed.)
              I know Ann’s got MS, and Romneycare is expensive in MA, but $334K for health insurance?  Really?  For 2010 it was $14,576.  If Romney got his health care costs down that much, he’s not doing a good job of bragging about it.
              While I’m nitpicking, I think Line 21 (Other Income) would have said “SEE STATEMENT 2” instead of “SEE ATTACHED 2”.  I also don’t think most tax software would have included “USA” in the address.  It’s always been kind of implied.  (It’s there in 2010, but I’m inclined to think that the preparer added it to make it seem patriotic.)
              Also, the font is wrong for GoRS, or whatever PwC was using at the time.  This is a sans serif font (Helvetica maybe?), and PwC’s software uses a serif font.  (Courier New, I think.)  It looks like they got a fill-in 2003 Form 1040 from the IRS’s website and just typed in some made up numbers.
              (Sad, too, that this is fake.  I think Mitt’s old returns and PwC’s security breach would have made for some entertaining comments here.)

            • Guest

              Yea you are correct Tax Nerd. GoRS uses “statements” not attachments, courier new-ish not helvetica, and 99% of the time GoRS can handle basic math. As for the USA it’s understandable as some people type it to drive the point home, incase the IRS sends it to Belmont, Australia since they are idiots.

    • Guest

      This is probably fake, but I guess Romney will need to release his tax returns so we can make sure.

    • Guest

      I call bullshit.  PwC doesn’t use “network file servers” in the sense these 4th graders are asserting.  And there’s no reason they would have a copy signed by Mittens.  Partner signs, then they send it to the client.  No reason to get a signed 1040 back from the client.

    • Robert Palmer

      If true, this sounds like a great way to spend the next 20-30 years in jail. Especially since no one will give a shit about his tax returns 6 months from now.

    • Guest

      Gotta have my buttcoins

    • publicpatsy

      So Adrienne, trolling for content on reddit…tisk tisk

    • cool story brah

      Bitcoins are worthless

    • CPALady

      The likelihood that this actually happened is about the same that the dude who won the Powerball jackpot in Michigan is actually my dad (hint: we’re different races). But I wish it were true, because it would be awesome. *sigh*

    • Guest

      The whole story does not make sense. What were his tax returns doing in the TN office while they are prepared with all the Bain stuff back in Boston? I doubt they left the paper files laying around, and how easy is it to gain access to the network if they are kept there?

    • lghjkhjgjxf

      Whoever made that fake 1040 doesn’t know anything about how to prepare a 1040.

    • ElContador

      1) I can type stuff in to Global fx and scan to PDF, too!
      2) Bitcoins…really? 

    • BeezNeezCPAMBA

      What office keeps more than 2 years of tax returns on site?  Who thinks PwC’s file retention system is organized by having every 2010 return for all clients in a giant folder labeled 2010?  They might have received the returns somehow, but their story is bullshit.

    • Jack_meof

      I think it is an ad for bit coins.