The value of the Internet currency known as Bitcoin rose yesterday for a pretty weird reason. Hackers claim to have obtained the tax records of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney from Pricewaterhouse Cooper and say they will release the records unless the Romney campaign pays them a million dollars in the hard-to-trace Bitcoin currency.

From Venture Beat:

Bitcoins are an electronic currency unregulated by any central authority. Users are self-policed and receive instant payments of Bitcoins through an encrypted process that verifies each transaction and does not allow it to be undone. Bitcoins are difficult to exchange for actual dollars, but are otherwise a very private way of exchanging cash. This makes the currency preferable for those who don’t wish to be identified.

The Secret Service is investigating the claims, which were first posted on Pastebin, a message board site commonly visited by hackers. Pricewaterhouse Cooper is denying the claims, or at least saying that it has seen no evidence of a hack. A lot of the chatter in the hacking world is pretty dubious of the claims as well but we live in a world where anyone can go on some website, say they pulled off a big crazy hack, and it becomes news.

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