An internet user has claimed to have hacked the email account of the entity thought to be behind the Bitcoin - Satoshi Nakamoto -and has offered to release personal details for $12,000.
Nothing is known about the identity of the claimed hacker and there is little evidence that they had details of Nakamoto to hand.
Evidence for the claimed hack appers in a document on Pastebin - the favourite rant and ransom web clipboard of hackers, hacktivists and hoax-slingers - that incoudes screen shots of the inbox of an email address thought to be used by Nakamoto.
The unkown parties have also accessed forum accounts associated with the gmx email address identified in the scree shots, including those at a p2pfoundation site where, they wrote under the Nakamoto name that Satoshi's "dox [personal details], passwords and IP addresses are being sold on the dark net". The data was apparently available due to Nakamoto misconfiguring Tor sometime in 2010.
That message urges Nakamoto to move location to avoid 'physical harm' and praises him for the invention of Bitcoin - an ironic act of generosity given their promise to publish Satoshi's personal details for money.
A Bitcoin veteran known as Theymos validated that the email account was compromised, as he has received a message stating that he should send the attacker "some coins before I hitman (sic) you" from Nakamoto.
While access to the email account appeared legitimate, the means by which it was accessed and the claim that it was once owned by the creator of Bitcoin were unclear. Suggestions within Bitcoin communities posited the ransomer may have registered the account after it expired, or even acquired access years previously.
Hackers and hacktivists of many stripes have long promised to release information stolen from corporations, governments and individuals for payment, typically through the anonymous Bitcoin crypto-currency.
Pastebin and social media are full of spurious claims and stupid promises to drop information "warheads" and government leaks, along with a phone-book-worth of inaccurate dox details.
Until more information surfaces on the claimed sale of Nakamoto dox on the dark web, readers should take the claims with a healthy dose of cynicism.
Moreover, those with solid information on the Bitcoin creator's identity could surely find many more lucrative legitimate and nefarious ways cash out. ®