A rogue website has leaked what's claimed to be the detailed financial records of US celebs, politicians and other public figures.
The site has published the alleged financial lowdown on US first lady Michelle Obama, blowhard Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger and both Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, among many others. Vice President Joe Biden, FBI director Robert Mueller, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, Sarah Palin, Beyonce and Mel Gibson are also on the list.
The practice of posting personal info on public individuals - for the purpose of allowing online activists to deliver pizzas and otherwise wreak havoc with the data - is known as "doxing".
The data dump includes what the doxers claim are the Social Security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses and contact information of most of the supposed victims of the leak, as well as "credit reports" and other financial information on some.
According to the Associated Press, the LAPD is investigating the posts.
In the case of Joe Biden, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the hackers released only their alleged Social Security Numbers and places of residence, but the shlebs got the full treatment.
One document among the cache of "leaked" information would have you believe that rapper Jay-Z has a mortgage with HSBC. Phone numbers in the data leak for Jay-Z's missus, Beyonce, include a number that was answered by staff at Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman, a business management firm that handles the finances of the wealthy, Russia Today reports.
The supposed Paris Hilton report does her credit, suggesting she has taken out a five-year repayment deal on a car and is diligently paying off a hefty 30-year mortgage. Her credit rating, if accurate, is very good.
LAPD chief Charlie Beck's supposed credit report is branded as originating from credit reference agency Equifax. Both Michelle Obama and Mel Gibson's supposed credit reports are allegedly from TransUnion. Each profile except for that of Michele Obama features an unflattering portrait of the particular victim. Some feature accompanying music. Dates on the "reports" suggest they were compiled as recently as last Sunday (our Paris).
The provenance of the data remains unclear, although some of it might have been sourced from public records and then combined with free credit reports obtained using this information. The motives of the unknown pranksters likewise remains a mystery.
An LAPD police spokesman told AP that it was investigating how the personal information of its chief ended up on the site, so police are taking the claims seriously. However the silence of normally highly vocal celebs such as Donald Trump* on the issue is out of character and it's possible the whole thing might turn out to be a massive trolling exercise aimed at exposing the credulous nature of much mainstream reporting on hacking issues. If the credit reports were forgeries then someone has taken a lot of trouble in making them look convincing.
The website is registered under the .su domain, the country code for the former USSR between 1990 to 1991, before the Soviet Union collapsed. The domain still exists and is administered by the Russian Institute for Public Networks. But it looks like the pranksters might not be Russians themselves. As Russia Today points out, the updates to the pranksters' Twitter account are "partly written in bad Russian, as though the messages were translated by machine".
The site shows an image of a girl holding her forefinger up to her mouth, links featuring the names of the individuals allegedly hacked and the quote: "If you believe that God makes miracles, you have to wonder if Satan has a few up his sleeve" - marking out whoever created the site as a fan of TV show Dexter.
* Trump has been busy tweeting about golf, The Apprentice and the possibility of changing his hairstyle, among other pressing matters. Palin, Hilton and Spears are serial victims of hack attacks after previously suffering high profile webmail, T-Mobile Sidekick mobile phone and (multiple) Twitter profile hacks, respectively.