New details have emerged in the case against the self-proclaimed “Bitcoin Baron”, aka Randall Tucker, who was arrested this week in Arizona on multiple charges of computer tampering. In a series of email exchanges obtained by The Open Ledger between Tucker and one of his cyber attack victims, the “Bitcoin Baron” displayed erratic and pathological tendencies, and also considered himself a part of the hacker-activist group Anonymous.
In October, 2014, Tucker began contacting Ford Fischer, co-founder of the independent news outlet News2Share using the handle “Key Last” and claiming to be a member of Anonymous. Tucker threatened to take down Fischer’s site unless he posted an Anonymous video demanding the release of sisters held by Arizona Child Protection Services. Fischer did not comply and his site suffered a DDoS attack, and he received the following email:
“This is an unfortunate matter Ford…. You failed to report on the video that was sent to you and now News2Share site will be Shut Down until you report on the matter and post on youtube.”
With seemingly no other choice, Fischer agreed to post the video on his New2Share’s Youtube account:
For a short time after the posting of this video, Fischer himself became the target of an investigation by law enforcement officials in Arizona, until he contacted them and explained the threats he had received and the attacks on his website.
According to Fischer, the threats died down. However on Christmas day he received a new one from Tucker, this time as “Bitcoin Baron”:
“OK, Ford. I dealt with you before and you never put my video up when I asked you to, but since you never replied back to me and etc… I guess I have to resort to my old ways again. Remember me back when I threatened to shut down your site if you didn’t post my videos? Yeah that’s me. So now I’m doing it again, because you aren’t helping at all and I’m trying to help what I can for Freeze Don’t Shoot. So it’s up to you if you wanna face my 250Gbps Packets or upload this video and share it to get it more VIRAL. Now I don’t like to threaten, but if it means to help [my cause], then I will do what I must.”
Fischer convinced the Bitcoin Baron that a technical issue would not allow him to post the video and the Baron backed off. Fed up with this Christmas Day surprise and the return of threats against his business, Fischer took matters into his own hands. He filed reports with the FBI and IC3 then began to gather his own evidence from his communications and Twitter and Youtube accounts. In a conference call with investigators from several agencies, including the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the FBI, Fischer shared his findings.
After several months, Fischer felt like an arrest was never going to happen, although he was being assured by authorities that their investigation was closing in on a suspect.
The break in the case arrived in Fischer’s inbox in early April — a bizarre email from the Bitcoin Baron that included a mix of boasts and threats, and most importantly a number of Twitter accounts the Baron claimed belonged to “the main people people of the operation”. The operation being Anonymous’s movement to takedown beastiality websites, called #OpBeast (formerly known as Operation Null Denmark). Why Tucker included this list of accounts is unclear, although the tone of the email suggests it was to bolster his own ego as a member in the hacking community.
Soon after this email, one of the Twitter accounts used the name “Randy Tucker”. Soon after that, Randall C. Tucker became a resident without bond at the Pinal County Jail in Florence, Arizona.
Fischer sees the Bitcoin Baron incident as disturbing evidence of the online damage that can be perpetrated by one mentally disturbed young man. He also said that “it speaks to the larger culture of hacker communities and the split between those genuinely involved [close-knit groups in Anonymous] and those who are considered outsiders, and end up being total wildcards in the hacking world.”