Michael Mancil Brown, 37, of Franklin, Tennessee, faces up to thirty years in prison, a fine up to $250,000, and orders of restitution to victims, because of a daring stunt he pulled off in 2012 that involved fake hacking, the PricewaterhouseCoopers consulting firm, and US presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Back in 2012, Brown had the bright idea to write a letter alleging to have hacked PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) servers and stolen tax documents prior to 2010 for Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann.
The “alleged” hacker sent the letter to PwC’s headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee. The letter asked the company for $1 million in Bitcoin, otherwise he’ll release the tax documents.
Besides the letter, Brown also advertised online that he was in possession of the Romney family tax documents, on the website Pastebin.com.
The fake hacker had a potential client
According to documents the prosecution revealed during his trial in Nashville, Tennessee, Brown entertained offers from PwC, but also from another party, which he directed to send money to a different Bitcoin address than the one given to PwC.
Since Mitt Romney was the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 election, the FBI was called in to investigate.
The Bureau quickly tracked down Brown, seized his computer, and arrested him. According to their findings, Brown never managed to penetrate PwC’s internal network in order to ever gain access to the Romney family tax documents.
Brown faced trial, and last Friday, May 13, 2016, he was found guilty and then convicted of six counts of wire fraud and six counts of using facilities of interstate commerce to commit extortion.
His sentencing hearing will be scheduled in the month of August, and according to the US Department of Justice, Brown stands to face up to 25 years in prison for the wire fraud charges, up to five years in prison for the extortion charge, a fine up to $250,000, and orders of restitution to victims.